NEW YORK TIMES ‘ENCOURAGED’ BY TIMESSELECT RESPONSE

135,000 Sign Up for Columnists Online

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Some 135,000 people have signed up to pay for TimesSelect, The New York Times’ premium online service, since its debut on Sept. 19.
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TimesSelect accumulated 270,000 subscribers, The Times said in its first comments on membership levels, but about half of them are paying subscribers to the print edition and receive TimesSelect access for free.

By comparison, the Web site has 11.6 million total registered users.

Access to archives and columnists
The Times introduced TimesSelect, which charges for access to high-profile columnists and some original content, to help generate more money from its free Web site and bolster sales of the print edition. Web surfers without Times print subscriptions must pay $49.95 per year or $7.95 per month to access most columnists, Times archives and other content.

Skeptics have questioned whether TimesSelect subscriber revenue and any positive effects on print circulation would combine to make up for the loss of page views by non-subscribers. Traffic and page views are central to setting rates for ads on the paper’s Web site.

The numbers so far seemed to encourage The Times. “We’re delighted with the enthusiastic response to TimesSelect,” said Martin Nisenholtz, senior VP-digital operations, The New York Times Co. “Clearly we’ve put together a product that appeals to a wide range of readers.”

Trying something smart
Eric Blankfein, senior VP-director of communication channel planning, Horizon Media, said The Times was trying something smart.

“They are trying to position themselves for on-demand information,” he said. “People are now paying for programming where no one would have. Look at iPod and ABC.” Apple recently released an iPod that can play video content including “Lost” and other ABC shows.

“There’s a viable value to the medium and The Times has cachet,” he added. “Why not charge for it?”

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