NYT Paywall Update

| Thu May 12, 2011 12:23 PM EDT

So how's that new paywall working out for the New York Times?

The paywall introduced by The New York Times at the end of March is hurting traffic to its website, as expected, but perhaps within acceptable levels....Page views from March to April declined 24.4% at The New York Times Online while slipping just 7.5% for newspaper sites as a group, according to the new ComScore numbers.

...."Our framework suggests that even if The New York Times loses 20% of its web traffic, it will need to add about 107k subscribers to break even," Citi analyst Leo Kulp said in a note to investors. Times Co. management said during its first-quarter conference call on April 21 that it had already added 100,000 subscribers, Mr. Kulp noted. That doesn't count home-delivery subscribers who get digital access free or the heavy users enjoying free access all year courtesy of a Lincoln promotion, but it does count people still enjoying a 99-cent introductory rate for their first four weeks.

I'm not sure why I'm highlighting this. I don't really have anything insightful to say about it. But since I had to buy a subscription after the paywall went up, I feel a sort of proprietary interest in following its success or lack thereof. Despite the happy talk from Times honchos, however, this doesn't really sound like a great launch to me. I suspect that page views will decline some more, lots of trial subscribers will quit after the trial period is over, and that heavy users will migrate toward cheating to get access instead of paying for it.

But we'll see. I actually wish them the best of luck, since I think news should be worth paying for. And if the news at the New York Times isn't worth paying for, then pretty much no one else's news is either.

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