The New York Times Tightens Limits on Free Mobile Reading

Previously Halved Number of Free Articles Available Online

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The New York Times will limit the number of free stories that people can read through its mobile software to three articles per day, part of its effort to coax more readers into signing up for online subscriptions.

Beginning on June 27, any mobile user of New York Times applications can view three stories in all sections, blogs and slideshows, the company said today. Previously, nonsubscribers could read all articles in the "Top News" section, though they couldn't get any material from other areas.

The Times, facing an industry wide advertising slump, is relying more heavily on subscription fees. Last year, revenue from subscriptions surpassed ad sales -- turning the typical business model for newspaper publishers on its head.

"They're trying to make the online product more valuable," said Edward Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Co. "Any step to get more digital subscribers is important because that's the way the industry's going as print circulation is going down."

The Times introduced its online pay wall in 2011 and tightened its monthly limit on free articles on the web to 10 from 20 a year later. It said earlier this year that it is planning both cheaper, more limited digital subscriptions and a more expensive package that would also include "extras" like preferential access to Times events.

Paid digital subscriptions across The New York Times Co., which also owns the International Herald Tribune and The Boston Globe, totaled 708,000 at the end of the first quarter, according to the company, up 45% from a year earlier.

~ Bloomberg News with Ad Age staff ~

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