New Subscription Product Offers Continuous Updates on Compelling Commentary and Perspective for $6 Every Four Weeks
The New York Times is to offer a new cut-price internet subscription to users who don’t want to access the full contents of the paper in a change reflecting the “Grey Lady’s” new digital strategy.
The mobile subscription will allow access to the paper’s opinion pages for $6 a month compared with the full-access charge of up to $11.25 a week for the Times Premier package.
“We have always known that opinion is one of those franchises that people really love,” Denise Warren, the paper’s head of digital products and services, told the Guardian. “People are willing to pay for it.
“One of our earlier attempts at a paid tier was TimesSelect, and that was mostly our opinion content. In the early days of that, we had about 250,000 paid subscribers.”
The Times was one of the first papers to institute a paywall online, charging readers for access to their stories, in an effort to find new sources of revenue as news readership moved from print to web. TimesSelect was the paper’s first stab at charging for content; implemented in 2005, it granted access to the paper’s archives and opinion content for $49.95 a year.
That initiative was dropped in 2007, and the paper changed tack again in 2011 when it introduced a metered paywall, opening up all content to visitors free of charge, but limiting them to a certain number of articles a month – initially 20, but halved to 10 by 2012. Once the free views run out, visitors are compelled to sign up for a subscription to the full website or wait until the end of the month when the counter is reset.
Andrew Rosenthal, the Times’s editorial page editor, said: “The communal nature of the internet and the rise of social media have allowed for more vibrant discussion of the Times’s opinion pieces. With the introduction of NYT Opinion and the new features we have added to the opinion section on NYTimes.com we hope to lead more engaged readers to our content and provide an even deeper connection to our columnists and the global conversation.”
The app is the paper’s latest attempt to entice paying membership from users who have not taken the leap to becoming full subscribers, Warren explained. In that aim, it stands alongside NYT Now, launched in March to provide mobile users with a “fast and engaging news experience” for $8 a month. Both apps are also available for no extra charge to print and digital subscribers to the paper.
“There is no doubt this is a very complicated strategy,” Warren said. “This is not the easy path, but we think it’s the right path. We want to make sure that people understand why they’d enjoy this app or that app.”
As well as opinion content from within the publication itself, the app features a second stream, Op-Talk, which offers a curated selection of op-ed pieces from other publications. Currently highlighted are a Vox article on Lupita Nyong’o, a piece from Seattle’s the Stranger about Amazon, and a New York Times piece from 1989 about Tiananmen Square.
“I’m really proud of the Op-Talk stream,” said John Geraci, the paper’s director of new digital products. “Op-Talk is our editors looking around the clock for the best commentary around the world, and then pulling it into one stream. It’s really an enormous timesaver for people looking to find out what the news means.”
The app as a whole is edited by Paul Smalera, who will be tasked not only with curating the two main streams of content, but also the new Q&A feature, which unites the app and the opinion section of the main website in bringing in NYT opinion columnists and contributors to answer readers’ questions.
Subscribers to the NYT Opinion app will also have access to the opinion pages on the website, but will be limited to 10 free articles a month over the rest of the paper. Geraci doesn’t worry that readers will miss the news background to the opinion pieces they are reading, however. “We were aware of that risk, and so we took care to build it as a standalone app. It runs all day long, and there’s multiple voices” from Op-Talk and the paper.
Warren added that the lack of links back to the news section of the paper was “by design. If you want the whole thing, you will subscribe to the core app. We think there is a distinct market for this app.”
Source: The New York Times Company