Posted by: Tony Carson | 18 September, 2007

Yipee, Times Select is Toast

Times to Stop Charging for Parts of Its Web Site.

That’s the headline. Starting tonight at midnight — 2 years to the day after instituting 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.

The 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.

“But 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.

What 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.

“What 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.

The 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.

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Responses

  1. Commodity content gets commodity pricing, so the price of news goes to zero. Great for the consumer. Unless, of course, our unwillingness to pay for content makes it impossible for the unique, high-quality, low-volume, long-form publishers to make a living, in which case we all lose.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if the New York Times, which holds itself up as a bastion of editorial integrity and quality journalism, helped kill both?

    We’re building a business to put the best possible content in front of the largest possible audience. Our mission is simple: make it easy for all of us to discover and access the world’s best content, quickly, inexpensively and on our own terms. Hope you’ll check it out.

  2. I wonder where i can look at data about the online advertisement market in the US?


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