Heavier reliance on subscribers

Why you can't click away on NYTimes.com

 
With the historic decline in print advertising — a primary revenue stream — the Times is depending far more on subscriber revenue to fund its operations. Subscriptions allow readers to regularly access Times content after paying a fee.

By the numbers

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2013 digital subscribers in thousands
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2014 digital subscribers in thousands
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2013 Revenue, in millions of $
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2014 Revenue, in millions of $

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The Meter (a.k.a. the paywall)

A major event in the adaptation of the New York Times to digital realities — perhaps the major event  — was the arrival of The Meter, also called a digital paywall, in 2011. It was modeled in part on the Financial Times system, which had pioneered the concept. The idea of the meter is to allow the casual user to access the Times for free, and to pressure the most loyal users to subscribe to the digital edition. In this way the Times could maximize its influence on social media and maintain a sizable audience for advertising, while drawing greater revenues from its core audience.

By most accounts The Meter has been a success. By the close of 2014, the Times had 910,000 digital subscribers, an increase of almost 20 percent from the previous year, for revenue of about $170 million, up from $150 million in 2013. And 54 percent of all revenues came from the users. According to the Times SEC filing for 2014, print subscribers for the Mon-Fri. edition of the Times were 648,900, while Sunday subscribers were 1.18 million.

 

 

The Nitty-Gritty

Times subscribers are separated into print, digital, mobile, and tablet. Subscriptions can be Mon-Sun, Mon-Sat, weekend only, Sunday only, and other combinations. Times newsletters, as abridged content, are free, but they create user loyalty.

On digital and mobile devices, as well as tablets, non-subscribers can view up to 10 pieces of content (columns, articles, videos) a month, excluding top news and other selected items.
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Examples

  • Anticipating that growth in the paywall would start to level off, the Times in mid-2014 launched NYT Now, Times Premiere, a cooking app and a opinion app— all paid products. The business results were disappointing. The opinion app was later dropped.
  • NYT Now, at $2 a week, is the cheapest NYT subscription. Subscribers may read a selected subset of roughly 40 Times articles per day, reformatted for the app. It is marketed as an product “for the moments when you only have a moment,” and targeted towards younger readers.
  • Times Premier is a Times “insider’s club,” providing “behind-the-scenes” accounts of how stories are created. It is for the most dedicated fans of the Times.

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