Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Or not...really. Would you pay five bucks a month for unlimited access to New York Times online content?  You’ll get a chance to decide if and when the Old Grey Lady moves forward with its current subscription plan.

The Times abandoned its silly TimesSelect service in 2007, which locked certain sections and archived articles behind a paid subscription wall – similar to the current Wall Street Journal online model.  But the Times must now reconcile its pervasive Internet presence with plunging stock prices and the bill for a ginormous new office.

Though all details currently exists as rumors and hearsay from internal memos, prevailing wisdom is that the Times will offer a certain number of articles for free per month, say ten, and then charge a monthly fee for continued reading.  No word yet on how they’ll tally these articles – if they’ll require all readers to log in or simply track IP addresses – but that is a question for another day, I suppose.

In related you-thought-it-was-free-but-it-probably-won’t-be-anymore news, Hulu may start charging a monthly fee for the viewing of back episodes of popular programs.  Again, the five-dollar entry cost is being bandied about. 

These announcements come as big blows to the economy of free that has been synonymous with the Internet since day one.  The Times and Hulu are titans in their respective Internet domains and could swing popular opinion toward a subscription standard. 

Rest assured, Charge Shot!!! currently has no plans to charge you anything but your time and perhaps a little dignity.