For those who don’t know it: The New York Times is going to be charging users of its online content and their pay scheme is complex and expensive. Here are the details:
I saw a tweet from The New York Times this morning and I followed it. It was a wonderful little op/ed by Andy Selsberg called “Teaching to the Text Message” on the value of concise writing, a more positive look at writing in the age of 140 character limits. I was going to add it to instapaper, re-tweet it, and maybe write a blog post about it (add my opinion to the mix) with a link back to it. I thought about the new subscription model noted above and thought:
1. My own personal NY Times counter will start clocking my visits and revisits
2. How many people who will follow a re-tweet of mine or follow a link on this blog will have a subscription to the Times, or, if they don’t, will pause as they consider whether they want to follow my link and add to their NY Times view count (up to 20 free, after that pay)?
The fact that I paused to rethink pointing people to New York Times content because of their subscription model reminds me of the fact that over the years I’ve been pointing people at their content, many folks can’t get to content because of login issues. Even I can’t get to their content at times because their site forgets who I am (I have an account with them).
I’ve had enough.
New York Times editor Bill Keller’s odd thoughts on aggregation were and are telling. The New York Times, at least its management, is living in some kid of bubble, maybe breathing a bit too much of their own exhaust. I think The New Yorker magazine is too. Neither has found a graceful way to make money from online content while in fact, they both have the potential to do so because they have great content loved by large numbers of readers all over the world.
The clumsiness of their struggles are telling and add to the idea that both institutions are elitist. I don’t think of them that way (content-wise) but the way they protect their content seems out of step with the rest of the online world.
I appreciate print publications’ struggle to figure out how to make money in a world where the expectation is that if it’s online its free, but The New York Times’ various experiments in making money leave me cold and I won’t bite. I’ll find other news sources before I get entwined in their confusing pay schemes.
When Salon invented “Salon Premium,” their subscription model, I bit on it as it was simple and it worked. When flickr offered “Pro” accounts I signed up for 5 years because it was simple and it was a great deal given what the service offered me.
In a world where people make real money selling 99 cent apps one would think that the geniuses over at The NY Times could come up with a subscription model that made them money and was reasonable for their online readership.
Right off the top of my head: $25 a year, single login for any number of devices. $50 family/household rate for up to 5 users under a single roof (like Apple’s Family Pack). If it gets gamed, don’t sweat it. Enough people will bite to make them serious money.
I’m not hopeful and in the end, the clumsiness of this paywall scheme will hurt The New York Times more than it helps them.