York Times Offers Free Online Content
mid-night of September 18, The New York Times stopped charging for access
to TimesSelect content. InfoWorld reports that, in addition to opening up
its content to all visitors, The New York Times will also offer free
access to its archives dating back to 1987, as well as access to stories
published by the paper between 1851 and 1922. The site will still charge
for access to stories published between 1923 and 1986. Print subscribers
will get free access to the complete archives, however, the paper said.
According to the NYT article,
more readers started coming to the site from search engines and links on
other sites instead of coming directly to NYTimes.com. These indirect
readers, unable to get access to articles behind the pay wall and less
likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyal direct users, were
seen as opportunities for more page views and increased advertising
has been free to print subscribers to The Times and to some students and
educators. Those who have paid in advance for access to TimesSelect will
be reimbursed on a prorated basis.
Perez-Pena writes in the New York Times:
move comes two years to the day after The Times began the subscription
program, TimesSelect, which has charged $49.95 a year, or $7.95 a month,
for online access to the work of its columnists and to the newspaper’s
archives. TimesSelect has been free to print subscribers to The Times and
to some students and educators.
addition to opening the entire site to all readers, The Times will also
make available its archives from 1987 to the present without charge, as
well as those from 1851 to 1922, which are in the public domain. There
will be charges for some material from the period 1923 to 1986, and some
will be free.
Times said the project had met expectations, drawing 227,000 paying
subscribers — out of 787,000 over all — and generating about $10
million a year in revenue.
our projections for growth on that paid subscriber base were low, compared
to the growth of online advertising,” said Vivian L. Schiller, senior
vice president and general manager of the site, NYTimes.com.
changed, The Times said, was that many more readers started coming to the
site from search engines and links on other sites instead of coming
directly to NYTimes.com. These indirect readers, unable to get access to
articles behind the pay wall and less likely to pay subscription fees than
the more loyal direct users, were seen as opportunities for more page
views and increased advertising revenue.
wasn’t anticipated was the explosion in how much of our traffic would be
generated by Google, by Yahoo and some others,” Ms. Schiller said.
Times’s site has about 13 million unique visitors each month, according
to Nielsen/NetRatings, far more than any other newspaper site. Ms.
Schiller would not say how much increased Web traffic the paper expects by
eliminating the charges, or how much additional ad revenue the move was
expected to generate.
who have paid in advance for access to TimesSelect will be reimbursed on a
Atwood, president of Borrell Associates, a media research firm, said that
there have always been reasons to question the pay model for news sites,
and that doubts have grown along with Web traffic and online ad revenue.
business model for advertising revenue, versus subscriber revenue, is so
much more attractive,” he said. “The hybrid model has some potential,
but in the long run, the advertising side will dominate.”
addition, he said, The Times has been especially effective at using
information it collects about its online readers to aim ads specifically
to them, increasing their value to advertisers.
readers lamented their loss of access to the work of the 23 news and
opinion columnists of The Times — as did some of the columnists
themselves. Some of those writers have such ardent followings that even
with access restricted, their work often appeared on the lists of the most
say that opinion columns are unlikely to generate much ad revenue, but
that they can drive a lot of reader traffic to other, more lucrative parts
of The Times site, like topic pages devoted to health and technology.
Wall Street Journal, published by Dow Jones & Company, is the only
major newspaper in the country to charge for access to most of its Web
site, which it began doing in 1996. The Journal has nearly one million
paying online readers, generating about $65 million in revenue.
Jones and the company that is about to take it over, the News Corporation,
are discussing whether to continue that practice, according to people
briefed on those talks. Rupert Murdoch, the News Corporation chairman, has
talked of the possibility of making access to The Journal free online.