After months of speculation, The New York Times has announced a plan to charge for digital subscriptions. In a letter sent to readers, the publication said, “Today marks a significant transition…[one] we hope you will see as an investment in The Times, one that will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world and on any platform. The change will primarily affect those who are heavy consumers of the content on our Web site and on mobile applications.”
The changes began for Canadian readers today (3/17) and are expected to impact U.S. readers and the rest of the world on March 28. Home delivery subscribers will continue to receive full access across print, computer, smartphone and tablet platforms. For those who are not paid print subscribers, here’s how the rules will work.
- On NYTimes.com, you can view 20 articles each month at no charge (including slide shows, videos and other features). After 20 articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site.
- On our smartphone and tablet apps, the Top News section will remain free of charge. For access to all other sections within the apps, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber.
- The Times is offering three digital subscription packages that allow you to choose from a variety of devices (computer, smartphone, tablet). More information about these plans is available at nytimes.com/access.
- Again, all New York Times home delivery subscribers will receive free access to NYTimes.com and to all content on our apps. If you are a home delivery subscriber, go to homedelivery.nytimes.com to sign up for free access.
- Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. For some search engines, users will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.
- The home page at NYTimes.com and all section fronts will remain free to browse for all users at all times.
Access to web and smartphone app is $15 every four weeks. Web and tablet app is $20 every four weeks and Access across all apps and web is $35 every four weeks.
“Our decision to begin charging for digital access will result in another source of revenue, strengthening our ability to continue to invest in the journalism and digital innovation on which our readers have come to depend,” said New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. “This move will enhance The Times’s position as a source of trustworthy news, information and high-quality opinion for many years to come.”
Newspapers, not unlike the music industry have been suffering as they grapple with how to monetize in the digital era. At first, newspapers and other news sites believed that high traffic would create advertising demand that would make up for lost subscription revenue and print advertising. Unfortunately, that has not worked in most cases. Similarly, in the music industry digital download sales have not made up for the loss in physical sales.
The New York Times paywall will be a closely watched experiment by many other journalistic endeavors who will be carefully measuring if consumers are willing to pay for news and stories.