New York Times Selling Content: Weird Payment Model

The NY Times has finally decided to charge for content:

“Beginning March 28, visitors to will be able to read 20 articles a month without paying, a limit that company executives said was intended to draw in subscription revenue from the most loyal readers while not driving away the casual visitors who make up a vast majority of the site’s traffic.”

In my humble opinion, this is long overdue. Whether their payment model is realistic however is something else.

The site’s visitors can read 20 full articles a month for free. On the 21st article they’re charged, either $15 or $20 a month.

Only time will tell whether visitors will pay, of course, but I wonder whether I will, and I consider myself a loyal reader.

I visit the site four or five times a week, and read two or three articles every visit. If I read ten articles a week, I’ll pass the 20-article limit within two weeks. This means that I’ll be paying at least $15 to read 20 articles for the other two weeks.

And that will make me hesitate, because it doesn’t seem like a bargain. What if I hit the 20-article limit on day 28 of a month?

It’s enough to give you a headache.

I’d be much happier paying for three to six months’ access at a time, even if I paid more, but that’s just me. There doesn’t seem to be an option for readers to pay for access according to a monthly or quarterly plan.

I’m sure the NY Times has spent big money surveying their readers. They think this model will work for them. I hope it does. I love quality journalism — and since I’m a writer, I want to know that there’s a market for quality work. It’s difficult to start charging for something that’s been free for many years, however.

It’ll be interesting to see how this content-payment model is received.

Author: Angela Booth

Copywriter Angela Booth's clients tell her she performs "word magic." Whether she's writing advertising materials, Web content, or ghostwriting for her clients, she's committed to helping them to achieve results, fast. Author of one of the first books about online business, Making The Internet Work For Your Business, Angela's written many business books which have been published by major publishers. She's an enthusiastic self-publisher and writing teacher.