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NYTimes.com Reports 100k Subscribers 117

Posted by timothy
from the what's-the-baseline? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Despite Slashdot (and much of the internet) ridiculing the New York Time for its archaic and overpriced paywall, the newspaper has reported an excess of one hundred thousand subscribers so far. Even as loopholes are offered, the New York Times has some support which they will need as print revenues dwindle (falling a staggering 57.6 percent during the year's first quarter)." Whether 100 thousand is a high number or a low one I guess depends on the NYT's business plan. Have they lost advertising revenue, and if so, how much? Have they turned many readers to alternative news sources?
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NYTimes.com Reports 100k Subscribers

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  • Pure subscriptions? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NitroWolf (72977) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @05:41PM (#35900260)

    Are these pure subscriptions, paying full price? Or are these subscriptions that come with something else or are heavily discounted? Most times, companies like this seem to include people who have print subscriptions that have accessed the website, essentially for free, or other methods of obtaining a subscription as a "subscriber." This is blatantly misleading when counting figures of how many people are actually willing to PAY in excess of what they have already paid (if anything) to obtain a subscription.

    If it's a pure subscriber number, as in, 100k people have plunked down the full price of the subscription, I'd say that fairly decent. If it's including other "subscribers" who didn't have to pay or paid a fraction of the cost, I'd say they are dishonest and are trying to bolster their numbers to look good.

    • by paugq (443696)

      You read my mind.

      Paper subscribers do receive a complimentary all-included digital subscription [nytimes.com].

      Now, digital advertising agencies are certainly interested in how many of those 100,000 subscribers are paid and how many came for free with paper. People who received the digital subscription for free are most likely to keep reading on paper (there's a reason why they are paying more for home delivery, after all).

      Business-wise, it doesn't really matter whether subscriptions are pure digital subscriptions or pap

      • by MoonBuggy (611105)

        Considering that the all-digital subscriptions (at least at list price) cost more than print+digital, I can't imagine that 100,000 people in their right minds would purchase the former. That was the bit that struck me as strangest of all - I would've understood them using Apple-style upselling, setting the price points so one is only just higher than the next to make the 'premium' plans seem like particularly good value, but going as far as to make it cheaper to dump a paper copy in the recycling every day

        • by Hultis (1969080)
          I dislike the recent development of Spotify Free as much as the next guy, but as I've understood it Spotify actually pays every time you play a song, so it's not a one-off cost at all. If you're talking about Spotify taking more money for phone access (premium), then that's not a one-off cost either since their phone app doesn't use P2P to alleviate pressure on their servers, meaning more server upkeep for them (not to mention the doubled bitrate premium gives), but the added customer cost is definitely muc
          • by MoonBuggy (611105)

            Regarding Spotify, I was referring to the fact that they charge £4.99/month for unlimited access on Windows/Linux/OSX devices (thus covering the recurring cost of the actual licensing, as well as bandwidth and server costs) but £9.99/month for 'Premium', with Android/iOS access, higher bitrates, and offline sync. I'd expect that the offline sync compensates for the increased bandwidth used by the higher bitrate, making the costs there no higher than the lower tier paid package, but maybe I'm wro

        • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @06:38PM (#35900922) Journal

          In case anyone was wondering: Monday-Friday paper subscription, including full digital access, is $7.40/week, totalling $384.80/year. Full digital access alone is $34.99/month, or $419.88/year. Five paper copies a week, including delivery, apparently come to -$35.08/year, so it looks like they should be paying you at least $0.13 per copy to take them off the news stands.

          There are introductory discounts running ($0.99 for the first four weeks of digital subscription, half price for the first 12 weeks of paper) but I've ignored them on the basis that they're short term. That said, taking advantage of them would actually increase the discrepancy a little, making print+digital an even better option.

          Sure, you can pay less in total to get either the smartphone subscription or the tablet one, and you have to pay a decent amount more if you want the weekend papers too (although not so much if you only want the weekend ones), but that doesn't change the fact that if you want the all-access digital package, they're charging extra for the privilege of not having a hard copy sent out every day.

          • If it is the case that print ads are still more profitable than web ads, then subtley encouraging people to get the print edition because it's cheaper increases revenues. Now, whether the the increased costs (printing and distribution of the paper edition) are greater than or less than the increased revenues is another question entirely.

          • Monday-Friday paper subscription, including full digital access, is $7.40/week

            Actually, it's $3.70/week. Seven days a week home delivery is $7.40/week, which means your analysis works; you made it sound like you were comparing Mon-Fri delivery to seven days a week digital.

            • by MoonBuggy (611105)

              That's the half price introductory offer I mentioned. And I was comparing Mon-Fri delivery to seven days a week digital, because the Mon-Fri delivery includes seven days a week of digital access - that was the point I was making.

        • by dougmc (70836)

          I can't stand this habit that companies are getting into of charging an increased recurring fee on a subscription for something that presents them with a one-off cost. In this case

          What exactly are you referring to, this one-off cost?

          It cost them once to set up the paywall, yes. There will be some maintenance, but it should be small.

          But they're trying to make money here. Running a paper is expensive, and if they run their business well, they should be able to make a profit, and they do that by charging their customers recurring fees, where their customers are readers and advertisers. Readers pay to keep reading, and advertisers pay to keep including their advertising.

          Other companie

          • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @07:04PM (#35901156) Journal

            What exactly are you referring to, this one-off cost?

            I may have been unclear, but the remainder of that paragraph: "In this case, it's the fact that smartphone+tablet costs more than just one or the other. Charge a small fee for the app if you must (although honestly I'd be surprised if the dev costs are more than negligible), but don't charge me extra every damn month for something you only needed to pay for once." was referring to the one-off cost of developing the iOS and Android applications to view the content. Obviously collecting the news every day is a recurring cost, and that's what users pay a recurring subscription for; what I object to is that once you've paid $'x' per month for access to the content, they then charge you $'x+y' per month for access to the content on a particular device. I understand paying continually for the content, I'll pay once for the app if I must, but what I object to is being charged continually, over and above the cost of the content, for the use of the mobile app on a given platform.

    • by nysus (162232) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @05:57PM (#35900464)

      I paid 99 cents last month and just renewed this month for another 99 cents. They aren't charging full price.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        What are their website's ads like? In a printed paper they waste a natural resource but are at least easy to skip, unlike the forced ads you get on DVDs and some web sites. I find it incredible that they feel that even after I paid for their content I should still be forced to look at their adverts.

        • by gd2shoe (747932)

          I find it incredible that they feel that even after I paid for their content I should still be forced to look at their adverts.

          And they wonder why I almost never buy a newspaper or magazine. It's also why I've always felt that cable (etc) was a rip-off. I'm either the customer, or the product. Pick one. I'm not going to pay for an unpleasant experience.

      • If everybody's paying that, they're pulling down $1.2 million a year. Not enough by itself, really, but if they're also pulling in ad revenues plus whatever they're getting from print, it might be enough to get by on.

    • Assuming this is an accurate count of online subscriptions (and not an artificially inflated count since all paper subscriptions are also online subscriptions), the next question is to wonder how many of those are inherited from their e-reader circulation ... As of April 2010, the New York Times had 90,934 [businessinsider.com] e-reader subscriptions (which was about twice the number from the previous year). If they doubled from 2009 to 2010 and then only attracted an extra 10% by 2011, I wouldn't call that much of a success.

    • by QRDeNameland (873957) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @06:12PM (#35900660)

      Are these pure subscriptions, paying full price? Or are these subscriptions that come with something else or are heavily discounted?

      According to the article (yeah, yeah, I know), the 100,000 figure "does not include print subscribers who receive digital access for free but does include readers who took advantage of a promotional offer."

    • FTFA

      "...a figure that does not include print subscribers who receive digital access for free but does include readers who took advantage of a promotional offer."

      So partially dishonest, par for the course for marketers.

    • by proxima (165692)

      I received a free subscription for the rest of the year, "sponsored by Lincoln" (the car company). No idea what exactly triggered that, but I was/am a pretty regular reader. Not sure if I'll pay or not when the time comes. It'll be interesting to see what the Washington Post ends up with for a paywall.

      • by arobatino (46791)

        I received a free subscription for the rest of the year, "sponsored by Lincoln" (the car company). No idea what exactly triggered that, but I was/am a pretty regular reader. Not sure if I'll pay or not when the time comes. It'll be interesting to see what the Washington Post ends up with for a paywall.

        I got one of those emails as well on March 22:

        Dear NYTimes.com reader,

        As a frequent reader of NYTimes.com, you’ve demonstrated an uncommon interest in a wide variety of today’s most important topics. This makes you anything but average. In fact, it can’t help but make you “smarter” — just the kind of person we at Lincoln want to engage.

        Though NYTimes.com will soon begin charging for unlimited access*, Lincoln is offering you a free digital subscription for the remainder of 2011. Enjoy all that NYTimes.com has to offer every day — investigative news and special reports, videos, blogs and more. It’s all yours at no charge, compliments of Lincoln.

        Take advantage of this limited-time offer** to receive free, unlimited access to NYTimes.com.

        I got another email on March 30, also from NYTimes, offering unlimited access at a reduced rate:

        Dear NYTimes.com reader,

        As you may know, The Times is now charging for unlimited access to NYTimes.com and our NYTimes apps. But as a valued NYTimes.com reader, you are invited to enjoy unlimited access at an introductory rate: save 25% for 52 weeks.*

        So when the article says "a figure that does not include print subscribers who receive digital access for free but does include readers who took advantage of a promotional offer.", it's not clear which offer they are talking about.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @05:46PM (#35900334) Journal

    ...is what they're going to do about all those Union contracts for the print side of the paper. All those jobs are dead as soon as print is dead, and I'm sure this has occurred to the union bosses. It's going to be interesting to see what happens.

    Does anyone know what the NYT print readership averages? At first glance 100,000 sounds like a lot, but for a world class newspaper, it seems like a pittance.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @05:55PM (#35900434)

      Does anyone know what the NYT print readership averages? At first glance 100,000 sounds like a lot, but for a world class newspaper, it seems like a pittance.

      A year ago their daily circulation was 950,000, 1.4 million for Sundays. So, that would be around roughly 10% of their print circulation.(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/business/media/27audit.html) And from the NYT website as well, all print subscribers get free access to their web content. Whether or not that 100,000 includes people who are logging on through their print subscriptions, well, that's up in the air.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        > all print subscribers get free access to their web content. Whether or not that 100,000 includes people who are logging on through their print subscriptions, well, that's up in the air.

        Oooh, good point. So having 100K subscribers isn't proof in and of itself that the online model is working.

        ...Mind you, I think their only hope of survival is online, but I'm not convinced they can make it work.

    • NY Times also owns the Boston Globe [boston.com].
  • Let's see, 100,000 subscribers, all subscribing at $3.75 a week (the cheapest plan), and costing 40 million to develop...
    At the current rate, they'll have made their money back in just about 2 years. Maybe the absurdly high cost was worth it after all.

    Note: The 100k figure *does* include those who subscribed with a promotion, so the actual figure could be significantly less. Or more, if many users are paying for the more expensive levels of service.

    • by nysus (162232)

      They are only charging me 99 cents a month. They are not charging the full rate yet.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      They are charging everyone either 0.99USD if they don't have a paper subscription, or 0USD if they do.

      It's an introductory rate designed to "ease" people into subscribing. The real test will come when they start charging the prices advertised after introductory rates are over.

      • But what I don't understand is why not make the 99 the official weekly (or even monthly) price and advertise accordingly? I suspect they'd get more than enough additional subscribers to surpass in profits whatever they were making at the higher price/fewer subscribers model.

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          Because they would make a HUGE loss at that price. The real price is over 15-35 times greater then 0.99. I wouldn't be surprised to see many simply drop their paper subscription completely.

          • We're talking about digital subscriptions. I am not advocating they make 99 cents a month the cost for the paper subscriptions.

            The way to make money in the digital world is to offer something a few million people are willing to pay a buck for, not to find one person who is willing to pay a few million bucks. The marginal cost for each new subscriber is close to zero.

      • They started charging the $15 fee to me today. I used to subscribe to read Krugman and Dowd when they had that thing going but for less money I think. I'll keep going at this rate until it feels like I've paid what they are worth, probably not more than 10 months since a year's subscription to Science costs $150 and that is worth more than the NYT.
    • your math assumed that NYT paywall and web content delivery infrastructure requires no further updates/maintenance/bug fixes, which is flawed in the world of frequent over-the-wire firmware updates (YES Sony, I am talking about YOU and YOUR PS3, BluRay, etc.)

      • by MoonBuggy (611105)

        Not to mention that saying "Maybe the absurdly high cost was worth it after all." implies they wouldn't have got the same income from the project if it'd only cost them, say, a million. Unless my sarcasm detector is just miscalibrated again...

    • by thebian (1218280)
      I don't think you can even pay full price. If you go to the signup page, it's 99 cents. A few people got it for free for a year (from Lincoln cars? makes no sense). They've sent registered users emails offers longer bargains. There's no telling when they'll stop the heavy promotions. It seems like they want to get used to people paying something, anything. Their readership on the web took a hit, but it's hard to figure. There are so many exceptions and exemptions -- and with 20 free articles a month -- th
  • Ever since NYT put up the pay wall, I switched to Slashdot for my news source.

    You get what you pay for.

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      You get what you pay for.

      Say! It's your lucky day. I've got a rock here to sell to you for $100. Why? Because it's a fantastic rock; you're paying $100 for it so it must be. After all, you get what you pay for.

      Well - except for that guy who bought a bridge from me last week for $100. Boy is he going to be pissed when he finds out who really owns it.

      • Exactly. Thinking something is good (or better) just because it's expensive is a common mistake.

        • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

          However, it seems to be the cornerstone to a lot of marketing campaigns; especially for high-profit markets.

          Anecdotal story time. Back when I was a kid, my Dad owned a store where he sold products that were crafted by him and Mom in the workshop out back. Dad came across a great deal on a particular raw material. He ended up having to buy a lot of it to get the price - but it was a great deal. So he figured he'd put out a special in the store to sell off the inventory. Customers would get a really n

  • I'd like to know how many of these are voluntary subscriptions. My first year in college, they made us subscribe to the NYT, despite the fact that there were at least five major cities with well-known papers (at least one, PIttsburgh, having two) nearer to the school than New York. Now, this was a small, private school, but if even one large state school did the same, they could easily make up the lion's share of the subscribers (SUNY alone could nearly quadruple the 100K figure).

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      did the school require it or was it a particular class? if it was the school that's total bullshit and they should be sued.
  • Revenue falling 57.6 percent generally means the end of a business. Profit, (revenue - expenses) falling 57.6 percent is not a big deal in a business which has often been in the black as of late.

    • Revenue falling 57.6 percent generally means the end of a business. Profit, (revenue - expenses) falling 57.6 percent is not a big deal in a business which has often been in the black as of late.

      Everything I have seen says it is revenue that fell, not profit. According to the news I have seen, the NYT hasn't seen a profit in several years.

      • That is except TFA I guess?

        "The Times Co., which includes the flagship New York Times, Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune, 15 other dailies and About.com, said net profit plunged 57.6 percent to $5.4 million on continued print advertising weakness."

        Oh wait you said everything you've READ, right this is slashdot I was being silly...

  • by Logic Bomb (122875) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @06:03PM (#35900528)

    I've had a nytimes.com login pretty much since they started requiring registration to view stories -- late 90s some time? Right after the paywall was announced, I got an email thanking me for being a long-time account holder and offering me a free year's subscription. I took their offer, of course. How many of those 100,000 subscribers are actually paying?

    • by jfengel (409917)

      Hey! I've also had a login forever and they didn't offer me a free subscription. (Though perhaps it got lost in the spam filter.)

    • by massysett (910130)

      I too got a free pass (either for a year or for the rest of this year, I don't remember.) It was sponsored by some carmaker (Buick?) Between all the free and discounted subscriptions, I doubt very many are paying full price. If you're reading this and was thinking of paying full price, don't. They will always offer some sort of discount, at least.

  • I'm about to hit the wall as an unregistered user, in that a pop-up appeared yesterday counting down the articles I have coming before I'm cut-off, but a registered nic of mine, under which I skim incessantly, has had nary a warning. I'm not sure if the roll out is staged and I'll hit that wall with that account too, but so far it's way over any so-called 20 story limit with no end in sight, so they haven't completely lost me as a reader. Yet.

    - js.

    • If the reminders count down to zero and they start trying to block you reading content, simply remove the dynamic bit of the URL and reload the page, or visit the site from something like google news; the paywall is trivially easy to circumvent at the moment (presumably by design), I'll be interested to see how far they go with this and what happens when they try to lock it down and stop offering huge discounts and deals on subscriptions. The NYT is one of the best papers in the english speaking world (qual

      • by rbayer (1911926)

        Or even better, just set your browser to only allow session cookies from nytimes.com and block anything longer term. On Chrome, this is done via

        Options -> Under the Hood -> Content Settings -> Manage Exceptions -> Add [*.]nytimes.com and set it as "Session Only"

  • The NY Times used to have the highest newspaper circulation in the world.

    Online is a hundred times more efficient than newsprint.

    That 100K should be closer to 10M, after all they spent on it.

    Printing the news is dead. Paying for the news is dead. Expecting people to consider your news site a one-stop shop or social hub is dead.

    The NY Times should get with the rest of the world and differentiate its brand based on the quality, depth, and breadth of its reporting. Live and die by the by-line and the click-

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      paying for news may be dead but it shouldn't be

      when news is free the news you will get will be the news that the people who are paying for the news to be assembled want you to see.

      expect the "news" to look a lot like freerepublic and fox news.
      • by blair1q (305137)

        News has always been sponsored. The only news that's "free" comes from NPR, which is weaker than piss after a redneck rodeo, even if it's credible. You weren't paying for the news, you were paying for the delivery.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        when news is free the news you will get will be the news that the people who are paying for the news to be assembled want you to see.

        It was always that way. No matter how much you pay, unless it is enough that you are the one deciding what gets printed.

      • by rayvd (155635)

        Um, this has been the case forever. It's just that now the news isn't necessarily how the liberal establishment old-media news wants it to be.

        Choice is good.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @06:03PM (#35900538) Homepage

    Their average weekly print circulation is around 877,000. The 100K figure doesn't include free access with the print version or the iPhone/iPad applications. What's not entirely clear is if the 100K includes the Kindle and Nook ereaders. Because they all of a sudden switch to percentages, stating that ereader versions are up 4.5%. They were so clear everywhere else but all of a sudden get ambiguous.

    • by danlip (737336)

      Or 1.2% of the population of NYC. Or 0.03% or the US population. For one of the country's biggest newspapers I would not call that a success.

      I'm surprised print circulation is so small - NYC population is 8.4M, so only about 10% buy the NY Times in any form (and maybe some just use it for their bird cages).

  • The club I frequent has 3-4 copies of the NYT and other national papers each morning. I read them there for free after done skiing or simply take them home after which I shred and compost. In the end, I pay nothing for the paper and it doesn't fill landfills. Community vs. private is the gist here, some should consider this the basis of 'news' and follow the model right to salvation.
    • by ilo.v (1445373)

      I read them there for free after done skiing or simply take them home after which I shred and compost

      Hey! So YOU are the shmuck who keeps stealing the newspapers from the gym (when other people still want to read them). Are you also the guy who steals all the toilet paper from the bathroom and takes it home?

  • NYT offered me a free one year subscription ( "sponsored by Lincoln") which I accepted. If they hadn't I would either have stopped reading their articles or used one of the workarounds.

  • ... and how many there are.

    You see, shortly before they went to the paid subscription model, I was awarded, for reasons unclear to me, a free subscription for a year. When it runs out, I doubt I shall pay to renew it.

  • How much does a subscription cost? Multiply that by 100,000, and I bet that NYT won't be anywhere near recouping the costs for their $40 million new paywall for decades.

  • people like me who get the print version delivered and therefor have access to the online subscription free - ?

  • I read the NY Times every day - it's one of my main sources of general news, together with the Washington Post, BBC, and a couple of local newspaper sites.

    We need a vigorous, active press to control the excesses of government and to shine light into dark places. I would be seriously worried for the USA if our quality national newspapers disappeared.

    I'm happy to contribute my $15 a month, and I'd be willing to go higher if they asked. I just wish more people felt the same way.

    • (I don't have any moderation points now, sometimes I get 15 sometimes 5?)

      You know good journalism is expensive, it costs companies to produce it and sometimes it costs journalists (and photo journalists!) their lives :(

      I rely on the NYTimes so heavily for good information and, more importantly ANALYSIS that I actually felt guilty until they put up the paywall. I didn't think they could generate enough revenue just through their ads so I was worried. I'm a subscriber now of course.

      Then again maybe the NYTi

  • the newspaper has reported an excess of one hundred thousand subscribers so far.

    Wow, they have 100,000 more subscribers than they want?

  • If the link says new york or wall street at all I just assume a paywall and never ever click on it. Who needs them?
    • by m1xram (1595991)

      You can read all about The Times at Timeswatch [mrc.org] for free.

    • by gtall (79522)

      Yeah, investigative journalism should be free. I mean why should anyone be paid for spending his/her time tracking down a story. They should do this gratis and give it to you so you can still believe veracious information grows on trees.

  • My daughter was forced by her college government professor to subscribe to the NYT. Why not the WSJ also? On the office window of one of the professors is the sticker "Change you can believe in". What am I paying for? I suspect the professor will be choking on that phrase in two election cycles. Bye bye Krugman.
  • They've lost more in web-smart credibility than advertising dollars.

  • An NYT online subscription is worth twenty dollars per *year* to me, not per month. It is the same story as e-book publishers - It simply doesn't cost as much to publish online as in print, so there is no justification for trying to jack up their margins. Until the NYT recognizes that the public is savvy enough to realize this and lower their fees to something reflecting cost-plus-reasonable margin (say, 20% without subsidizing costs from the print operation) I will continue to ignore the paywall.

  • I got a free 7 month subscription, courtesy of of a luxury car company. I just have to view and extra ad every time I log in.

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