The newspaper had previously implemented a partial pay wall called Times Select in 2005. Times Select was abandoned two years later.
The Times said its new approach, termed a “metered model,” will offer users free access to a limited number of articles per month. Users will be charged once they exceed that number. The idea is to preserve enough traffic to maintain an advertising revenue stream and remain visible to search engines but also to generate a new revenue stream from paid content. Subscribers to the print newspaper will still have free access to Web content.
“This process of rethinking our business model has also been driven by our desire to achieve additional revenue diversity that will make us less susceptible to the inevitable economic cycles,” Janet L. Robinson, president-CEO of The New York Times Co., said in a statement. “We were also guided by the fact that our news and information are being featured in an increasingly broad range of end-user devices and services, and our pricing plans and policies must reflect this vision.”
The Financial Times has pioneered the metered model online, and it recently said it is on track to generate more revenue from paid online and print content than from print advertising by the end of this year. In the FT’s model, as users seek to access more content, they are first asked to register then, eventually, asked to pay for content. The result is 1.8 million registered users and 121,000 paid users, according to FT.com Managing Director Rob Grimshaw. He added that the registered users provide demographic information, which helps FT boost its online advertising yield.
Grimshaw said more media businesses should be charging for content. “A lot of it comes down to confidence in the product,” he said.