Arment Dietrich

20 Smackers for a New York Times Kindle Subscription

By: Arment Dietrich | April 6, 2010 | 

The New York Times BuildingGuest blog by Nick Harrison

According to Friday’s TechCrunch article, The New York Times Kindle subscriptions are increasing by 46 percent to $19.99. And they are charging 17.29 for iPad subscriptions.

It is old news that beginning in 2011, The New York Times will be charging for online content. More than a week ago it was also reported that News Corp’s UK times would charge, according to Reuters, 1 pound ($1.49) per day or 2 pounds per week. It would be complimentary to print subscribers.

My first reaction at the time was, if you are already losing subscriptions and advertising dollars, is actually charging for content the best strategy?

According to a article on January 21st, The New York Times was averaging 20 million unique visitors per month. That may sound like a lot to some people, but when you factor in current advertising rates, the payroll and expenditures, it comes to no shock that The New York Times is in the red like a lot of other online newspapers.

I think online advertising rates are going to continue to drop. Not only from the lack of advertisers, but because you don’t need the geo-targeting or the newspaper demographic as in the past. I used to always run online advertising campaigns with the Los Angeles Times, because I was focusing on people in California with a certain demographic. Now with Google, Bing, Facebook, and several other online avenues, I, like other advertisers, am able to target key demographics like never before. With the amount of people now going all over the place to get their news, as an advertiser, my advertising budget is spread around, not only is it more spread around now, most clients are spending far less for traditional media and focusing on social media type efforts.

[poll id=”3″]

  • This is an example of a company not understanding that they have to change with the times. The Internet has made nearly everything free, and people aren’t willing to go back from that.
    I don’t know how these companies are going to stay afloat financially with online content, but it certainly won’t be by doing things the same as they used to.

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  • I think it is a complete, total misperception that the Internet means free or that people will not pay for content. More appropriately, the Internet means that you will compete with free. Of course the upside of that is that your distribution costs also go to zero.

    In fairness to The New York Times, while they are certainly doing and have done some dumb things, they are not “doing things the same.” I’ve seen and use the iPad app from NYT. My first impression was to turn to my wife and say, “Wow, this is the type of content that I would pay for.” While the Internet takes the value of information to virtually zero, there is still plenty of room to create value in terms of how the information is deliver and in terms of creating greater context for the information. By no means does NYT have it figured out, but I applaud them for innovating, experimenting and asking people to pay for it.

    I’d also caution the differentiation between “traditional” media and “social media.” This is the exact same mistake marketers make when the differentiate between “online” and “offline.” These silos are merely mental conceptions used by consultants and practitioners to market their services. All customers want is what they want, when they want it and how they want it, preferably without having to ask. The business that is “silo” agnostic and focuses on seeing the world through their customer’s eyes, ignoring all else, is the one that will win.

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  • I really like high quality news.

    I don’t really like to pay for it.

    Unless it is the Atlantic Monthly perhaps.

  • I think a certain amount of news should be free. We need that so our communities will have smart, educated and informed citizens. But special features– the pictorial and video bells and whistles– cost money.

    I’m comfortable paying a nominal fee (up to $24 for an annual subscription) for special or extra content on larger papers like NY Times, LA Times, Financial Times…

    I think had a good model.

  • nvartist

    The New York Times gave up “reporting” the news long ago. Therefore, it engages only in editorializing the news. I don’t want their opinion for free, let alone pay for it. If they go this route, I feel they will go by the wayside. The question really should be, how much will they pay me to read their “news.”

  • Morgan

    Paying $20 a year for an NYT online subscription wouldnt be outrageous. they have plenty of content i read on a daily basis instead of having to search 100 different sites and waste a bunch of time. If the content changed, that would be a different story. theyre called professional journalists because they get paid. its gotta happen somehow. plus, i love bittman.

  • Gini Dietrich

    I believe the traditional media MUST find a way to stay relevant in the online world in 2010 or they all will go by the wayside. The problem is that they’ve given away the content online for free for so long, it’s difficult to ask people to pay for it now. If they’d had an online subscription for 40% off their print subscriptions to begin with, I don’t think we’d be having this conversation. But hindsight is 20/20, right?

    I would pay for content, if it’s something I really find valuable.

  • In the “hindsight is 20/20” category, I think what traditional media outlets like the Times will have to do is give people an incentive to pay for the content. If it’s just text and some small photos to click through…no way. You can barely hold my attention to the jump as it is — I’ll piece it together myself from other sources.
    But if there’s video. Or audio extras. Or links to reporter blogs that enrich the content. Or something else that makes it worthwhile for me to be paying to see it? I would consider paying.
    As a journalist, though, I honestly wonder how long publications like this will be around as we know them. Whether on paper or by e-reader.

  • I would much rather pay $20 for a subscription than watch my favorite paper fold. This whole idea that we’re entitled to everything free on the internet is absurd. It’s ideal, sure. I’d love for everything to stay free seeing as I read a few different newspapers each day. But it’s not realistic. These newspapers need to survive, and it seems like the only way they can do this is to start charging for content. Could it backfire and fail? Absolutely. But I haven’t seen any other viable alternative yet. I don’t have any negative feelings towards them for charging.

  • With all the misinformation and disinformation on the Internet, news from a reliable site that provides insight is valuable. I’m willing to pay for it.

  • Great conversation here – thanks for triggering it. Paige, as I said in our comments on my blog, sorry if my words came across harder than intended. I think your points (all of them) are quite good and are the prevailing opinion.

    While I realize that the comments on this post by no means represent a statistically significant sample it’s exciting (for me at least) to see just how many people say “yes – I would pay for such content.” Maybe that means that professional journalism has a brighter future than most think – I certainly hope so.

  • jayjay

    The only reason they have the ‘large’ number off hits they have:
    1. Google post about 20 percent of their news section from the New York Times. I really hate that.

    2. See #1.

    3. Most news engines use the NYT articles for the webfeeds. Drudge, MSN,etc. So, even if you hate this opinionated dribble like I do, you see it plastered everwhere.

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