NY Times considering $60 per year online subscription fee … possible in AU? Probably not …

Reports are that the NY Times is close to making a decision around charging a $5 a month fee for users to access their content (discounted to $2.50 for print subs)


I’m unsure whether users will, generally, pay for stuff they can get for free elsewhere but it’s widely considered that if any group can pull this off it’d be the NYT.

Will be interesting to see where it all goes and raises the questions, could any AU masthead brand expect users to pay for their content.

The NYT is a lot more than AP feeds and slideshows. The content is deep, rich, informative and credible.

Could, let’s say, the SMH or The Australian charge a sub fee for their digital product? Does it give them something they can’t get elsewhere?

And if a title like The Australian went sub-only, how many people would it need for it to be worthwhile? And how big is the potential subscriber pool?

I think it’s a small pool, tiny even. Neither site (or any news site) holds a user for more than 1 hour a month. Most are returning around once a week. Are you going to fork out money for something that really is a small part of your media consumption and you can still get elsewhere? It’s not like either title is a daily essential for the general user.

The sites that can probably look at premium models in some depth are those who
– have high engagement (ie time spent, pages views, repeat visits)
– deliver information that makes a difference in the readers day to day. ie – entertainment, humour, exclusive news or business intelligence
– provide strong, quality content that is always relevant to the reader

That rules out most brands. Many have one or two of the above qualities but none have all three.

If you’re not offering this it would be a hard slog, users will struggle to see the value.

The main large scale area that comes to mind is Business and Finance. Sport, Entertainment, General News will all struggle as there is simply too much supply in terms of digital in this country and all areas are serviced adequately by broadcast media.

Those with strong Business/Finance assets would be hesistant, especially after the disaster that was the AFR.com

Another question … if you are charging users for access is it fair to keep delivering the same stream of advertisements at them. There has to be a trade-off for these paying subs (ie you can’t just slap a sub fee on something that was free and not change the product)


2 responses to “NY Times considering $60 per year online subscription fee … possible in AU? Probably not …

  1. While not necessarily in the industry, media and media trends are indeed fascinating. Interestingly enough, the NYT failed miserably in trying to charge for some of its content (Op-Ed and the like) just a few short years ago. The media as a whole has trained its readers, Pavlovian style, to expect all content on the internets for free. The only exception, however, is the WSJ which, coincidentally enough, has a huge share of corporate readers who, at the end of the day, don’t pay directly. Read some of Howard Kurtz’s pieces (Wash. Post and CNN).

    Translation: FAIL, if the NYTs move forward.

  2. Agree that if anyone can pull it off in the mainstream, the NYT can. Would also suggest The Guardian as a possible contender. But these mastheads have an established web presence, good content and still break the occasional scoop – the SMH/Telegraph don’t have the brand awareness outside Australia to suggest a big enough customer base. If it’s MP expense claims up against News’ Top 10 Nipple Slips slideshow, I know which way I’d go.

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