The New York Times will activate its paywall at 2pm ET (11am PT) today. While the word “paywall” evokes the idea of an impermeable wall that you will only be able to breach by getting out your credit card, the reality is far more complicated. Indeed, according to the New York Times’ own estimates, only about 20% of its readers will ever encounter the paywall at all.
It took the New York Times almost two years and close to $40 million dollars to come up with its paywall scheme and the results neither reflect this huge investment in manpower nor money. It’s a mess that was designed by committee. I actually believe that most people would be more than willing to pay a reasonable amount for access to the NYTimes’ generally excellent reporting. The problem is, it almost feels as if the paywall was designed to scare away just those readers who would be willing to pay.
To my surprise, I just received free access to NYTimes.com for the rest of 2011. Sponsored by Ford’s Lincoln brand, the New York Times is offering free accounts to “an exclusive group of frequent visitors to NYTimes.com.”
The New York Times today erected an online paywall for its readers in Canada and plans to roll this system out worldwide on March 28. NYTimes.com readers will be able to access 20 articles per month for free. The New York Times will also charge users of its smartphone and tablet apps, though the Top News section in these apps will remain free. Monthly subscriptions will start at $15 per month for access to the website and smartphone app. For access to the website and tablet app – but not the smartphone apps – user have to pay $20. Full access to NYTimes.com content on all platforms will cost $35. There is no website-only subscription.