NYT Now is The New York Times' lower-priced subscription app. For $7.99 every four weeks, users are given access to certain Times articles that NYT Now editors select. The app also includes a separate feed called "Our Picks," which curates stories from other publications.
The future of NYT Now is uncertain, however. Last month, Times CEO Mark Thompson told Re/code that the company hasn't "sold as many subscriptions as we would have liked" to NYT Now. The Times is "looking at" offering NYT Now for free, he added.
Last year, the Times shuttered a subscription app that curated opinion pieces amid a broader reconsideration of its mobile subscription strategy.
How to make money from mobile readers is a critical concern among publishers. Audiences are pouring into publishers' sites via mobile devices, but the ads they show fetch lower rates and there are fewer of them on the smaller screens. It all adds up to a mobile monetization problem. The Times, for instance, has more than 50% of its traffic coming from mobile, yet mobile contributes just 10% of digital ad revenue.
A couple weeks ago, Ad Age spoke with Clifford Levy, editorial lead at NYT Now, about the app's fate and the importance the Times has placed on mobile. Here's a lightly edited version of Ad Age's conversation with Mr. Levy.
Advertising Age: What's the fate of NYT Now, given what Mark Thompson told Re/code about the company considering a free option?
Cliff Levy: We're actively working on NYT Now 2.0, and we're starting to figure out what the business model is. We should have some news on that fairly shortly.
Ad Age: How long is fairly shortly?
Mr. Levy: It won't be a long time.
Ad Age: Can you share the number of users?
Mr. Levy: I'm not allowed to talk about numbers. All I can say is that the monthly active users has been strong. The thing that we've already said publicly was that the business model was not as successful as we hoped. That's one reason why, as Mark Thompson said, we're considering other options including whether or not to move toward a free model.
Ad Age: How big is your staff?
Mr. Levy: We have about six or seven editors who run the app 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They're really thinking about what is the presentation of The New York Times on the phone and helping push the newsroom to think about the phone. What we've learned from NYT Now is helping us advance the main New York Times app, which is getting a lot more editorial staff shortly. So stay tuned -- there are going to be some major amazing improvements on the main New York Times app.
Ad Age: Are you shifting more resources from inside the company?
Mr. Levy: Yes, the whole company is shifting resources toward mobile at every part of the company. [Times Publisher] Arthur Sulzberger and Mark Thompson and [Times Executive Editor] Dean Baquet are really, really focused on mobile right now. Every division in the company is looking at how they can shift more resources to mobile. In the newsroom we're certainly doing that. There's been a lot of discussion about how we can free up resources, what can we do less of in order to move more people to mobile.