New York (NY) – Further proof, were it needed, that old school publishers with inky fingers simply don’t get the web comes in the news that the NYT wants to charge users $5 a month to read its deathless prose online. And mobile users are likely to be hit for cash before web charging is imposed, says the company.
The Times is also considering offering a 50 percent discount on the online fee to subscribers to the paper edition. The paper blames a drop in online ad revenues for the move, which will almost certainly result in a drop in readership that will have a knock-on effect on what ad rates the site can command. Overall ad revenue for the title is down by 27 percent in the first quarter and the paper is cutting jobs and salaries to cover the shortfall.
According to ABC figures, the Times had a circulation of 647,695 in the six months to the end of March and its site is the most visited US news site, says ComScore. Two years ago, the paper ended an experiment to charge for premium content which attracted 200,000 subscribers and generated around $10 million in revenue.
The Hearst Corporation says it is also considering charging for online content and the Wall Street Journal already operates a subscription model. Both the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Christian Science Monitor shut down their print operations in a bid to survive in digital form.