NY Times biting themselves in the patooty?

The New York Times will start charging for content on a metered scale starting in 2011. That means you can access a certain number of articles for free, and then they’ll start charging when you reach a predetermined quota.

That means they’re treating their website much like they treat their hard copy newspaper. You can read a few articles for free if you go to your local library, but you might not get the most up-to-date issue, and you probably won’t have time to read it cover to cover. If you want all that, you have to subscribe or purchase your own copy from your favorite newspaper vendor.

The same concept, applied to their website means you can read a few things, but then either pay up or – what I think is more likely – search for the same content on another news outlet. With the decline of newspaper and magazine subscriptions, I’ve been wondering when this would happen, but I’m afraid it’s following the wrong logic.

Old logic says charge the advertisers, charge the readers. That’s the logic that reigned prior to the digital age. As the media landscape changes the logic behind business models has to change too.

Paid content means fewer readers/visitors. Less activity means less return for advertisers. And since the bulk of revenue likely comes from ads, less returns will significantly impact turnover.

So what? How are dailies and monthlies to get their readers to pay for content, or at least generate another income stream in addition to advertising? What about subscription-based apps? Subscription-based RSS feeds? Let’s say I want to know anytime media in the US runs a story about corruption in Moldova. I’d be willing to pay $0.02/article, or so. For the convenience of delivery to my mobile phone – I’d pay for that. But content on the website when I want to read about the day’s events? Not a chance. I’ll take my business elsewhere – and chances are, so will most. When it comes down to it, I’m likely to get so used to not using sites that have metered rates for content that they’ll lose my participation altogether. I’ll go from being a regular user to an infrequent user, to abandoning it completely.

Update 1/21/10: TechDirt posted a nice article along the same lines, noting that NY Times is going to be caught in a dispute between 2 competing business models.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Tweets by EngageThem