Bold step as New York Times charges for contentJuly 10, 2009
Great news that the New York Times is to start consider charging for content. Somebody has to be the first to go, and after Murdoch’s recent revelation that he is considering this for The Times and The Sun in the UK, it sounds like a monumental shift is taking place.
The price mentioned by the NYT is low. At $5 per month to begin with, it is around ten pence per day in sterling terms. Who could deny that is good value? The big question is just how elastic demand for quality newspaper content will be. In other words, how much will this price – albeit a very low one – negatively impact demand?
It sounds reasonable to argue the quality of reader will be superior under a payment model. It will not include people landing on the page unintentionally, for example. It will also likely drive up the readers’ “propensity to buy”, since it will be possible to be more targeted with ads (using reader information) and readers will be generally more affluent – all good stuff for advertisers. This is an experiment well worth undertaking, and the economic knowledge gained might be so valuable as to outweigh the cost of being the first mover. Let’s hope so.
One concern is with Journalism Online, the organisation that has established itself with the laudable aim of creating a single pay platform for all online newspapers. This is a very powerful idea, but surely the best way to deliver it would be through a non-for-profit body owned collectively by the newspapers themselves, and perhaps representing also the interests of readers.
That said, until such a group is formed (happy to be corrected if this has already been done), Journalism Online is showing the way, and for that, they ought to be congratulated.