NY Times curbs free Web access, subs up

2012-03-20 22:27

New York - The New York Times said on Tuesday it was cutting back on free access to its online content, as it announced gains in paid subscriptions to its news website.

The prominent US daily said it would be moving the "pay gate" at NYTimes.com to 10 free articles a month from 20.

"With this change, The Times's digital subscription plan will continue to allow for access to a generous amount of free content on the website and across multiple digital platforms," the company said.

One year after launching paid digital subscriptions, The Times had approximately 454 000 subscribers to its various digital subscription packages, e-readers and replica editions of The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune.

The news group has three subscription plans ranging from $15 (R113) to $35 (R265) per month, allowing access on computers, smartphones and tablet devices. It has a current promotion allowing access for 99 cents (R7.50) for the first four weeks.

"Last year was a transformative one for The Times as we began to charge for digital access to our content," said Arthur Sulzberger Jr, chair and chief executive.

"Today, close to a half million people are now paying for digital content from The Times and the IHT. We knew that readers placed a high value on our journalism, and we anticipated they would respond positively to our digital subscription packages."

The move by the daily last year has been closely watched by other newspapers looking to boost online revenue. Most newspapers are seeing print subscriptions fall sharply, while getting only limited revenue from online sites through advertising and subscriptions.

A study released on Monday showed mobile devices and social networks are boosting news consumption but media outlets are lagging behind technology companies in reaping the profits.

The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism said 27% of Americans are now getting news on mobile devices.

With print circulation declining and print advertising revenue shrinking, the report said that as many as 100 US newspapers were expected to erect some kind of metered paywall around their online content in coming months, joining the roughly 150 dailies such as The New York Times that have already done so.

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