Online paid subscriptions – The Future Newspaper….

News? How do you get yours? For the majority of our parents lives they have read the newspaper over breakfast, something they still do to this day and have the age and the australian on our door steps every morning though subscription, I must admit I also do to, although I generally have already read the articles of interest the night before online after midnight, I am sure I am not the only one in this boat, and if this trend continues of people getting their news online (which it will), we will be seeing a change in our online content available for free, because after all this news outlets are in the business to make money. The article chosen which relates to this marketing strategy of moving to the online format full time comes from ‘The Wall Street Journal’ via “The weekend Australian and is titles  “NYT to charge for web access” by Russell Adams, and gives the example of one of the worlds biggest news papers being The New York Times, leading the way in the new marketing strategy.

This article relating to the ‘New York Times’ recent decision to start charging readers for access to the papers website as which began on March 28th, giving the readers several subscription options, from as little as 20 articles a month to unlimited access via the consumers iPad or iPhone, as of September 2011, The New York Times, offers digital access (including an iPhone APP) for .99c for the first 4 weeks, encourangingconsumers to subscribe.

Whilst this will be the way of the future being the leader in this category means itis an extremely bold and ambitious business move for the New York Times (NYT), who hold the biggest market share of print media companies with over 30million visits according to Adams’ article. The overwhelming and crucial issue for NYT is the potential loss of readers and as such their dominant market share, and here lies the marketing and strategic issues, that is how will NYT market their new service charge to continue their customer retention, as well as gaining new customers.

Whilst the move to charge customers for something that is already free, seems unfair and perhaps unlikely that customers will pay, it does prove NYT have recognised the threat technology and online media has on the existence on traditional print media as well as their target demographic, who NYT feel are a market that value their news immediacy enough to pay for it.

Whilst this is a big step in the traditional news industry which NYT operate in, it is however not uncommon for online media outlets to charge consumers for the use of parts of their product, such as ESPN, who offer “insider articles” specific for customers who are willing to pay, and market through the use of teasers on their website (ESPN, 2011), this trend could suggest, charging for online access similar to charging for newspaper in the past, is what will happen in the not to distant future and perhaps NYT are the first organisation of many to go in this direction.

An ESPN special offer to entice new subscribers

It seems The New York Times’ decision to charge an online subscription fee has 2 major strategic drivers forcing this change, which I believe are technology and customer driven.

The first, most obvious and main strategy is that of a technologically driven strategy as the NYT are moving with the market, as the article notes the market is changing and the want for online news and willingness of consumers to not only adopt but also pay for the access is increasing, therefore taking advantage of the movement toward online and away from more traditional offline forms of media. Long term benefits for NYT’s include a reduction in printing costs of papers, if like many this blogger believes that in the not to distant future online media is the dominant form of news, NYT’s push into online will also increase their market share making it easier for people around the world, such as Australia to get full access to their paper by subscribing online and in doing so NYT are taking advantage of the online technology trend and capitalizing with subscription fees (I know of many people in my organisation who would be interested in the happenings of New York City’s business world as we have offices on wall st).

I also believe NYT’s move into charging fees is also customer driven (stay with me here), whilst at first look it looks quite the opposite as they are charging for a service which was  previously available free of charge, however increased news ‘insider’ access and the fact NYT are adapting to consumer trends of increased online usage and research suggesting consumers are increasingly willing to pay for access to the paper, suggests by following these consumer patterns, NYT are in fact taking a customer driven strategy also, by giving readers more incentive to switch from offline print to online media.

What do you think? Do you see yourself paying for online news in the next year or so? Or maybe tomorrow? Will The Age, The Australian and the like follow this trend? I believe so.

– Devlin


Adams, R, March 2011, “NYT to charge for web access” ‘The Wall Street Journal’ via The weekend Australian’ March 20th 2011 – 2011 = 2011

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2 thoughts on “Online paid subscriptions – The Future Newspaper….

  1. rebeccamaher says:

    Thanks for the blog post on this issue, I had no idea that the New York Times were planning to charge for online content. I think that this is a necessary step or them to continue to be a profitable and premium publication. First of all, the New York Times is respected and unique enough to warrent users paying money for the content. If it was any newspaper, online readers would just move to the competitor news websites. However the New York Times has journalists and columnists that users regularly follow.
    Secondly, unfortuneately for users, this is probably going to be the future for many print-turned-online publications. If they cannot generate the revenue they used to from sales of physical papers, they must find another source. Also with dwindling readers, the big advertising dollars that used to go to print media are find other ways to advertise. I think that getting the price right will be the key to winning over consumers. It needs to be priced low enough that those who are used to get it for free will not be alienated. However not too cheap as seem as if the content is not of a high quality for which is not worth paying.

  2. deecsmiles says:

    I agree with your comments Rachel, firstly thank you for reading.
    Being as big and well respected as they are, NYT are in a very good position to do this.
    I could see The Australian moving down that path very soon, I’m not to sure the Herald Sun will in a hurry?
    What would you be willing to pay for 12 months subscription? As much as you would for physical paper? Or much less (which i suggest it would be)…

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