The New York Times has announced its paid content plan. It will offer readers free access to an unspecified number of articles each month and they will have to pay after that. This is an interesting move and model but the devil is the details yet to come. Let’s consider some extremes:
- Worst case scenario: they have a low number of articles each month (less than 30) and each time you want to access any article you need to be logged on to the relevant website. Unless you do this from one device this is going to be a big pain. It will, however, play into aggregators hands who will have a role in sorting out which of the NYT’s content is ‘click worthy’ and worth spending your ‘free’ credits on.
- Best case scenario: the NYT solves some key technology characteristics and somehow makes it easy for you to click on articles without much login difficulty. It also allows you to keep track of your quota over the month. Finally, it differentiates its own articles in terms of what counts as a read and click versus what doesn’t (e.g., breaking news versus opinion pieces).
The pricing plan is not a bad one as it clearly will encourage those using the NYT’s like a daily newspaper to subscribe while occasional readers can get some but not total access. So the basic pricing economics seems sound. The issue, as with all of these things, is how easy will it be to use. There is reason to be optimistic. The NYT could have implemented the worst case scenario today. Instead, it is waiting until 2011.