The New York Times erected its paywall on March 28 in the U.S. While it is a fairly permeable wall (links from various sources will provide you with free access, and your first 20 visits each month are free), the Times’ subscription model is way out of whack with the rest of the industry. Head on over to The Understatement to see a chart showing just how much more expensive the Times will be than any other online source.
The Understatement looked at annual digital subscription prices for cross-platform services. The price of the Times is $455 for the all digital plan (which gives you access to the website, and on all your devices), while the closest competitor is the Wall Street Journal at $207. The author points out that the Times’ pricing model seems designed to discourage existing subscribers from cancelling their print subscriptions, rather than getting people to subscribe digitally.
If that’s the case, it really illustrates one of the problems faced by old media. Specifically, old media has a hard time fully embracing online content, for fear that they’ll cannibalize their traditional platforms (print). As a result, they get involved in new media in a half-assed manner like this. This contrast with new media publications that are online only, and don’t have the shackles of a dying form of business to tie them down.
Would you pay $455 each year to read your favorite newspaper online? Do you think we’ll see the day where publications such as the Times will be available only online?