Thursday, March 17, 2011

New York Times To Roll Out Digital Subscriptions

new-york-times-buildingGet out your credit cards, New York Times fans, it’s time to pay up.

Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. announced in a letter on the paper’s homepage that a digital subscription model would be introduced on March 28 for United States readers. Canada received what amounts to a paid beta today, which will “enable us to fine-tune the customer experience before our global launch,” says Sulzberger.

After the plan launches, you will be allowed to read 20 articles a month for free. If you’d like to read more than one article every day and a half, you will need to sign up for a digital subscription. The subscription tiers are broken down by device: $3.75 per week for Web and smartphones, $5 per week for Web and tablets, or $8.75 per week for access to everything.

Those already paying for the Times to arrive on your doorstep on the pressed flesh of trees will pay no extra cost to reread their favorite articles on any device of their choosing. For comparison’s sake, the current cost of a daily home delivery subscription is $14.80 a week (in my area, anyway), though they are currently running a 50% 12-week deal.

The very notion of a paywall sends chills up the spines of Internet users accustomed to getting content for free. But as PC World’s Jared Newman points out, the Times is charging for the delivery method more than the content. Any story you come to through social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter will not count against your 20-stories-per-month limit. Certain search engines will have daily limits on traffic, but the Times content will not be edited. The company rightly recognizes that word of mouth is an amazing advertising tool and isn’t willing to squash it.

Will you be subscribing? Or will you be relying on Twitter feeds and Facebook friends? Sound off in the comments below.