NYT Pay Wall Survey

I tend to be a sucker for completing surveys from brands I love and the New York Times is one of them. This morning I invested 15 minutes in a lengthy survey on my willingness to pay for a variety of schemes to deliver NYT content to me via print and online. As a staunch hater of pay-walls, yet an inveterate paid subscriber of the Wall Street Journal Online (as well as a paid subscriber to the print editions of everything from Woodenboat to Baseball America, the Times and the Atlantic Monthly) I contradict myself when I say on the one hand that information should be free versus my practice of paying for stuff that I really want and prize.

The Times is obviously going to a paid model. But here’s my proposal to them. Segment your circulation in a pyramid model. At the top are print subscribers who cough up the big bucks to have a wad of paper dropped at the end of the driveway every morning. Those subscribers get carte blanche access to everything. iPad apps, smartphone apps, NYT.com. No questions, no up-charges, no nickle and diming. The rest? Well, tier it from a monthly model but don’t nag the user to death with micropayments and day passes.  I would rather be hit once and hit hard than suffer the death of a thousand cuts.

Gauging from the dozen or so pricing schemes offered up during the interminable survey, the beancounters at the Times are crunching through a lot of models, models driven by the panoply of platforms they have to deliver to: paper, PC browser, iPad, Smartphone, e-book readers. But what came through for me, as I tried to pick the best pricing scheme like a new set of eyeglasses at the optometrist – “Better this way? Or this way?” — is how much the Times is important to me and would rank, along with a handful of sources, as the only publication Iwould cough up $50 a month or more to read on whatever device I decide to read it on.

While I wish there was an advertising model robust enough to subsidize publishing and keep the paywalls down, the truth is the old display model of CPMs does not work, sponsorships are barely hanging on, and marketers will carry their ad dollars to volume ad networks and paid search for the foreseeable future. So, if keeping the reporters and editors of the Times employed means paying for digital access, then so be it. I will pay.

The one thing I may not pay for much longer is the print edition. Much as I love it, I seem to be the only one in the household who does. So … iPad get ready, you may be the preferred platform for the foreseeable future.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

7 thoughts on “NYT Pay Wall Survey”

  1. It’s exciting to see these options in draft form, before they starting rolling them out. I like the $15 per month option, especially if I can access the web edition from a smartphone or tablet.

  2. While I like the idea of a “gold pass” giving in-print subscribers access to the whole shebang. I’m not so sure it’ll work.

    There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is the operational and organizational divides between the in-print and the online versions.

    A number of the larger publications still drive in content through their print editors and journalists, using applications such as CCI NewsGate (http://ow.ly/2k463). They then port data over to their online operations; usually located in a consolidated position elsewhere.

    Along with this, there’s then the debate over revenue. How much of that subscription pays for operations as the print and online departments each vie for thier share of the riches based on readership vs. unique page loads vs. point per click vs. coupon claims, etc …

    Point is, I don’t think news organizations with multiple newspapers are going to easily adopt a “gold pass” model unless or until internal barriers between online and print are either reduced or eliminated.

    One other thought is that while I do warmly recall the joy of yummy Sundays hanging out at my relatives mansion in Englewood, NJ, reading the times and debating politics, I’m not so sure if the demographics of those who have invested heavily in tablet technologies such as the iPad and Kindle wouldn’t want to recoup some costs by remaining in the digital realm.

    I guess only time will tell.

  3. The thing that has always struck me is the overcomplication of the web for newspapers. Infamously, a http://www.annarbor.com/ spent a fortune doing a new online presence that could have been done cheaper/faster/better using something like wordpress.

    Then we have Newsweek which was sold for a dollar yesterday to get someone to assume the liabilities. Turns out they are paying more that 13million in rent…

    Costs are totally out of whack. They haven’t transitioned from the plodding dinosaurs…they continue to shed the true value of their operations by cutting editors and journalists. They need to be cutting the vast levels of management and unneeded infrastructure.

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