updated 11:15 am EDT, Thu March 17, 2011
New York Times makes subscription plans official
(Updated with iTunes app changes) The New York Times on Thursday outlined its long referenced plans to put up a paywall and start offering subscriptions. Everyone will get their first 20 articles per month for free, but further reading will need a monthly subscription. A $15 per month plan offers full web access as well as a smartphone app; $20 per month swaps out the phone for the iPad, and an unusually steep hike to $35 is required to get both phone and iPad use.
Everyone who subscribes to the physical newspaper gets unlimited access to the digital version, except on e-readers like the Kindle and the Nook. That will improve in the future, the NYT said.
It will also implement in-app subscription as an option to fit in with Apple's current App Store subscription policies. Without changes to the app, Apple would theoretically ban the NYT offer from the iPhone and iPad. Subscriptions in native apps have to also have an iTunes equivalent, and Apple doesn't have a subscription mechanism that would allow its downloads as free bonuses for print.
Subscriptions take effect on March 28.
The approach is a very different one to that of News Corp. Its head, Rupert Murdoch, has often been hostile to any free, ad-supported web content and has often put up much stricter paywalls that only let users read some articles for free or only under certain conditions. His major iPad-first project, The Daily, will allow free access in certain web conditions but is pay-only in the native iPad app.
New York Times Company chair Arthur Sulzberger argued that free access was still needed to have a wide, casual readership. He only wanted to charge those who got the most value out of the articles and were more likely to see it as worth the added expense.
"The challenge now is to put a price on our work without walling ourselves off from the global network," he said in an interview with his own paper, taking a direct shot at News Corp's more isolationist policies.