Search Traffic Influences The New York Times To Drop Subscription Fees

Times to Stop Charging for Parts of Its Web Site from the New York Times says they will stop charging some news content as of midnight. The New York Times started charging $49.95 a year or $7.95 a month for access to columns and to the newspaper’s archives about two years ago. The New York Times said they had 227,000 paying subscribers, generating about $10 million in revenue. So why the change?

Vivian L. Schiller, senior vice president and general manager of the site, said:

But our projections for growth on that paid subscriber base were low, compared to the growth of online advertising.

What wasn’t anticipated was the explosion in how much of our traffic would be generated by Google, by Yahoo and some others.

The searchers landed on a login box and did not proceed to the article. Although some of those users may have paid for access, the New York Times felt they were losing more ad dollars by not granting free access to that content.

According to Nielsen/NetRatings the New York Times gets about 13 million unique visitors each month. The Times has not estimated how much traffic will increase due to the change, nor did they release any estimates in projected increased ad revenue from the change.

For more coverage on this announcement, see Techmeme.

Related Topics: Business Issues: General | Channel: Industry

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://istudioweb.com Zealus.com

    Perhaps they have discovered the BugMeNot.com ? :)

  • http://www.traffick.com AndrewGoodman

    This is an absolutely brilliant illustration of the trend away from subscriptions, and the vindication of the ad model. Like it or not, this is something that Eric Schmidt has been talking about the past couple of years. Ad supported, open services work. Here’s proof the other kind (walled content) so often does not work.

  • http://www.photoshopsupport.com/photoshop-blog/index.html Jennifer Apple

    I hope this has a domino effect. So many blog posts link to news that gets archived and moved behind subscription schemes. Good news.

  • http://www.shapeable.com SeanIM

    Glad to see this movement. Subscriptions I feel should be left to truly ‘private club’ type of situations. General media publications being open just seems to make sense. Now if they had a private club on frog farming that I felt compelled to be a part of as I wanted to become a frog farming professional, then sure it’d make sense to opt-in and possibly pay a fee for access to that specialty data.

  • http://www.semreportcard.com semreportcard

    Another factor for the NYT as well as other major publishers like Hearst, Gannett, and the Tribune Company is archiving. In the past two years I have had discussions with the leadership of all these entities in an effort to get them to see the benefits of traffic generated by the search engine visibility of all their content. The executive director at Tribune informed me that the revenues from paid access to archives wasn’t enough to keep the lights on. This move by the NYT was just a matter of time.

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