Here’s How the New York Times ‘Paywall’ Works

New York Times E-mail to Readers
Pay up, freeloaders.

So it’s here. The New York Times finally has announced its long-gestating digital paywall, a metered access plan it hopes will add new revenue to the bottom line and point the way to future of consuming news online. How does it work? Here’s what you need to know:

  • It begins today for subscribers in Canada. It rolls out to everyone else on March 28.
  • Print edition subscribers will get free access to and the Times’ mobile and tablet apps.
  • If you don’t subscribe, you can read up 20 articles per month. After that, you’re locked out, and will be offered a subscription.

You can choose among three digital packages:

  • Access to and its mobile app for $15 every four weeks.
  • Access to and its tablet app for $20 every four weeks.
  • Access to, its mobile app and its tablet app for $35 every four weeks.
  • Right now, there’s no annual digital subscription plan, but Times executives say they’ll have one soon.

If you access Times articles via Google or social media like Facebook and Twitter, you can access five of those articles for free, in addition to the 20 free articles you receive as a nonsubscriber (a limit that, apparently, doesn’t pertain to Bing, so have it there!). The Times offers more details on the plan via its FAQ document here.

After the jump, more on the Times’ new strategy and reaction to it.


At the Nieman Journalism Lab, Ken Doctor notes that the Times’ strategy is different from that of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Dallas Morning News and the Times of London, in that it doesn’t lock down all its proprietary content — like we noted above, it is a metered access model, not a true paywall.

Damon Kiesow at Poynter notes that the Times is differentiating between the value of a mobile app and a tablet app. The Times responds that reader indeed place different values on each.

Former Editor & Publisher columnist Steve Outing says the Times plan is a big bag of fail. It’s too expensive and putting mobile and tablet access in two different price tiers goes against industry trend. (I’d say going against newspaper industry trend might not always be a bad idea, but that’s just me.)

Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast: “The Times is gambling that there are enough news junkies out there willing to pay for their fix and not just surf away to The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Huffington Post, or a thousand other websites.”

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing says the social media backdoor to Times content “won’t work,” but notes that, yes, he “was going to hate this paywall no matter what the NYT did.” Honest!

Media critic Jeff “What Would Google Do?” Jarvis RTs this from a fellow tweeter, saying the biggest risk in this whole experiment is that the Times becomes removed just that much more from the public sphere.

Felix Salmon at Reuters says the plan actually a disincentive for readers to use the Times’ iPad app and places a value of exactly $0 on “What does all this mean for the New York Times Company? I can’t see how it’s good.”

Jack Shafer at Slate predicts laments how complicated the subscription tiers are and predicts “major turmoil in the coming weeks as the Times invades Canada with the beta version of its paywall and then brings it to the States.”

Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch: “Dumb, Da, Dumb, Dumb.” “A digital subscription should be a digital subscription, and it shouldn’t matter what kind of computer you use to read the paper on.”

Infinitely more reaction via the Twitter hashtag #NYTimesNews and #NYTPaywall.

Much more from Anil Dash, Steven Brill, Megan McCarthy, Jonathan Stray of the AP and many others.


Business Insider has more details on the plan, including traffic numbers, from the Times’ presentation to employees.

Gizmodo: How to get around the Times’ paywall. Sneaky!

Chart: Comparing paywalls at New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Newsday.

Here’s what the NYT paywall looks to Canadians.