Tech blog item #9: The New York Times’ Porous Paywall

According to Mark Potts’ “Recovering Journalist,” there’s a rule today that every media-business blogger has to weigh in on the New York Times’ finally announced online subscription plan.  In this blog article, Potts goes over this plan, and looks at an analysis done by Felix Salmon.

The New York Times introduced this plan on Thursday.  The idea of this plan is to begin charging the most frequent users of The New York Times’ Web site $15 for a four-week subscription in a bet that readers will pay for news they are accustomed to getting free.

In the analysis, Salmon discusses how the paywall won’t even cover its own development costs for a good two years, and beyond that will never generate enough money to really make a difference to NYTCo revenues.  According to Salmon, this move makes no kind of financial sense for the NYT.  The upside is limited; the downside is that it ceases to be the paper of record for the world.  No one would take that bet.

Potts completely agrees with Salmon.  As Salmon says, it doesn’t appear this is going to make a material impact on the Times’ finances.  There seems to be no point in all of this, except maybe to make some sort of “we must be paid” statement.  Potts’ message is this: Just wanting to be paid does not a business model make.



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