Rohit Mishra

Thoughts which don’t fit in 140 characters.

The New York Times Becomes Paid

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The New York Times - arguably the best newspaper in the world has decided to go behind a paywall. After March 28, anyone reading more than 20 articles per month on New York Times will need to pay.

$15 - Web access + Mobile app

$20 - Web access + iPad [Tablet] app

$35 - Universal  access

_All prices are for 1 month. Subscribers to print edition of NY Times as well as its international version - International Herald Tribune - will get free universal access. _

The price plans are comparable to what other websites like Britain’s Financial Times have, which charges $20 a month. More importantly, NYT will not apply the paywall for readers coming via Facebook, Twitter or Google. Google users can see a maximum of 5 articles per day, whereas Facebook and Twitter users have no such restriction.

Although this move will let people link to New York Times articles without the fear of the paywall, I am sure at some point NYT will try to put a limit on the number of articles that someone can read via FB and Twitter also. With 600 million users, Facebook is a very strong distribution medium, and Times will try to monetize it. Even they don’t seem very clear about how this will work. The NYT Digital Subscription FAQ page says -

Can I still access articles through Facebook, Twitter, Google or my blog?

Yes. We encourage links from Facebook, Twitter, search engines, blogs and social media. When you visit through a link from one of these channels, that article (or video, slide show, etc.) will count toward your monthly limit of 20 free articles, but you will still be able to view it even if you’ve already read your 20 free articles.

When you visit by clicking links in Google search results, you’ll enjoy up to five free articles per day.

I am not very sure how the Times will monitor the usage. I may read one article via Google, then leave the site and return via a link from Twitter. Tracking activity of a user will be a tough task. Probably, everyone will need to have a New York Times account, because otherwise, the task seems tough.

Also, in the mobile world, there is another problem. How will families share their subscription? Thankfully, it seems NYT is working it out.

If you’re a digital-only subscriber, you can create only one account (with one e-mail address and password). If you’re a home delivery subscriber, you’re also currently limited to one digital account, but you’ll soon be able to link additional digital accounts to your home delivery subscription. We’ll notify home delivery subscribers as soon as this option is available.

A digital family plan will make a lot of sense.

I am a big fan of NYT, and believe that it is the first place where you should go to read news. I will happily pay for the high quality content that NYT gives and its brilliant apps. (I am in love with the Chrome web Store NYT app) But even $15 is too high a price, here in India where you get a print subscription at around $3 per month. $15 may be great relative to the $55 that NYT charges for print subscription in USA, but I hope they lower their rates for other countries. On a similar complaint that NYT is limiting access to the wealthy, an NYT reader responded that

“The ‘wealthy?’ It’s two lunches at McDonalds. For a month of reporting. I’m happy to support the NYT for such a low price.”

NYT is a global organization, and they should know, that here in India $15 will easily get you 10 lunches at McDonald’s.