The NY Times' Freemium Strategy

I was very pleased to see yesterday that the NY Times has made the decision to adopt the FT's subscription model over some of the other options they had. I wrote the following last summer and thought it would be useful to reblog it today:


Monetize The Audience, Not The Content

There's a lot of discussion out there about how online content should be monetized.

In particular, the newspaper industry is doing a lot of soul searching for the right revenue model. For many publications, particularly legacy publications with higher cost models, advertising alone isn't covering the nut.

Let's leave out the discussion of the print side of these businesses for this discussion. I think most papers would be better off without the print business but I also understand why many won't walk away from a print based product just yet.

For those content owners with a cost model that can't be covered with advertising alone, subscriptions seem like the obvious choice. And yet, for most, subscriptions have not worked very well.

The worst examples of subscription services are those that break the content up into free and paid. It's as if some content is worth more than other content. I think that is the wrong idea most of the time, and especially in news and news related content.

I like the subscription model the FT has been using for some time now. I may get the exact details wrong but its the idea that's important anyway. You can visit the domain something like nine times per month for free. They cookie you and when you stop by the tenth time in a month, they ask you to pay. And many do.

This model recognizes a few fundamental facts about the internet. First, you need to make your content available for search engines and social media linking. That drives as much as half or more of the visits these days. And if you have an ad model at all, and most newspapers do, then you need those visits and that audience.

Its also true that the 'drive by' visits will bring new audiences, some of whom will become loyal and ultimately paid audience members.

The other thing I like about the FT's model is that its an elegant implementation of freemium. The best freemium models allow anyone to use the service for free and then convert the most serious/frequent/power users to paying customers.

Apparently the NY Times has been surveying its readers in an effort to find the right subscription model. I hope they'll ask them about the FT's model. Its simple to understand and my guess is most will like it.

If they roll it out, I'll gladly sign up because I visit the NY Times at least ten times a month and I would like to help pay the costs of the people who create it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. andyswan

    I think it’s a really bad idea that ignores the main problem:95% of “newspapers” (online or off) are saying the exact same thing. Running Associated Depressed stories just like everyone else in the industry. Why would you charge your most loyal audience members because they choose to read the story at your ad-filled site rather than someone else’s ad filled site?News content is becoming a commodity because that’s how newspapers have treated it. But you’ll notice that the sites that are really kicking ass (TMZ, HuffPo, Drudge, Breitbart etc) are all doing something DIFFERENT. Creating UNIQUE VALUE.If I was in charge of the NYT I would look around and think “holy hell look at all these wasted resources. We have the best of the best here backed up by big resources and they’re doing very little of unique value.”Investigate. Break stories. Create a quality product that people are willing to pay for. In other words, do your job, stop resting on your brand and stop trying to squeeze your core audience.Just imagine how many copies of “Special edition: Why everything is Bush’s fault forever” the NYT could sell.

    1. fredwilson

      they do that more than any other paper out there andy

      1. andyswan

        You’re right. I contend that it’s not enough. I contend that it’s ALL theyshould be doing.They’re pretending that news online is a “one-stop-shop” kind of thing, likeit is with a printed paper.Matt Drudge and one assistant are kicking their ass because they know it’snot.As boxee knows…..people WILL PAY for valuable, unique content….but it’simpossible to be both creator and distributor. Choose, and be excellent.

        1. Mike

          Andy, you wrote:”Investigate. Break stories. Create a quality product that people are willing to pay for. In other words, do your job, stop resting on your brand and stop trying to squeeze your core audience.”Yet the examples you cite largely do nothing more than aggregate other people’s content. Now I realize that you ended your last thought by stating the importance of choosing between being a “creator” or “distributor” which I cant disagree with, but I’d contend that everyone (except maybe TMZ) wouldn’t exist without content creators like the NY Times.

          1. Mihai Badoiu

            Being a content “creator” is much harder than being a “distributor”. Original thought is rare, and a lot more work has to be done. On the other hand, it’s much easier to put a spin on Reuters news.

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Agree. In the legacy model, many so-so ‘journalists’ have been immune from fundamental economic forces; their somewhat residing in Ivory Towers and believing they are creative and should not be concerned with such matters.The good journalists will thrive and the publications – hard and/or soft output – that host them will similarly thrive, regardless.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        I think Andy’s got a point though, Fred. The NY Times doesn’t always use its resources as well as it could and often mails stuff in. We get weekend delivery of the NYT (and daily delivery of the FT), and in the last couple of years, I’ve found myself reading less of the NY Times. The content has gotten weaker. A few examples that come to mind: – The article in the Sunday edition back in November about an NYT reporter who decided to walk around his block enough times to equal the distance of a marathon. All the news that’s fit to print? – The cover article in the Magazine section about the eating disorder an NYT food critic had when he was growing up. – The article about some woman in New York who relaxes by watching NFL games on TV at a local bar. Hope they didn’t stop the presses for that one. The FT, on the other hand, will just send you a thin paper if they have little to report on that day. They won’t pad it with as much nonsense. Where I’d differ with Andy is that I think the NYT would be better off if it were less ideological — at least in its news section. I haven’t read the WSJ much since Murdoch took it over, but the Journal used to have a real demarcation: red meat for righties on its editorial page, but news articles written objectively. I think that model got more liberals and moderates to read the WSJ for its news content, and I think a similar approach by the NYT — of keeping its editorializing to its op/ed page — would boost its readership. The current practice of putting tendentious editorializing in the guise of a “news analysis” on the front page of the NY Times is a turn off to those on the center and right, IMO.

        1. Nick Oliva

          Good points… I distinguish between the ridiculous fluff that they publish (and your list, if true, is outrageous) and their news. I like their news. Their fluff is an easy target. But I can’t tell you how many times I see people at Starbucks with their Sunday Times reading those things, so it may just be about personal preference.

          1. Mike

            Watch The Wire, Season 5. This issue is addressed at length.

        2. fredwilson

          i’ve said on many occasions that the times should not be in the sports orbusiness sectors. others do that better than they do. but they do lifestylevery well, for example

    2. kidmercury

      lol, don’t forget the follow up special edition: “why the only solution to every problem in the world is more taxes and bigger government”

      1. andyswan

        “the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan”

  2. disqus_Bk9SHVmI85

    Fred, we did a pretty serious analysis of the NYT competitive position and strategic alliances in grad school. Here’s a link to the presentation.

  3. gardnersmitha

    I like the idea behind the headline of your original post, and I think that the Times will see some success with this model. But I don’t believe it’s sustainable over the long term, and ultimately it may keep the Times from finding a model that really, really works.There is a portion of the population that has an emotional and/or collective social attachment to the institution of newspapers, the Times perhaps being the most revered example. I enjoy their content and read it frequently. I’ll probably pay for it if they make me. But I can’t imagine that anyone younger than me (I’m 23) and most of those my age would even consider it. There’s just no reason.The sentiment of “monetizing the audience, not the content” I think is exactly correct. But I’m not sure that a pay wall, even on a metered model, truly meets that description. I give credit to the Times for doing something that will help their stockholders in the short-term, but I hope they don’t see this as a long-term panacea for their much more institutional woes.

  4. kidmercury

    pfft……that’s all that needs to be said, just pfft…….like the great internet prophet kevin kelly told us, a big part of the internet is simply to connect stuff. create networks, basically.i don’t see how NYT’s freemium strategy advances that. seems more likely to me that social networking is going to disrupt the publishing business, and incumbents like NYT don’t know how to compete with that. textbook innovator’s dilemma. this is why some folks like my good friend marc andreessen are waiting for NYT to diemore importantly the NYT is a shameful organization, a mockingbird, among many other things. i would encourage folks to not support such corrupt organizations.

  5. Evan Rudowski

    Fred, great to see your support for this effort. It’s been disappointing (and sadly predictable) to see so many people ready to criticize the plans even before they’re implemented. There are many legitimate questions to answer and challenges regarding how to get it to work best so that revenues are optimized and the best possible balance is struck between paid content and advertising revenue. But at a delicate time for newspapers as an industry they should be applauded, and not trashed, for trying new things.Your most important point is simply that you will pay for it because you value their journalism and want to support it. I will too. It’s not just whether alternative news reports are available more cheaply or free elsewhere. The New York Times is an important institution in our civic life and it should be supported because we would be poorer without it.Evan

  6. David Ulevitch

    Fred — This isn’t the freemium model, it’s the drug dealer model.Do you honestly believe it makes sense to give the occasional passer-by something for free, but charge your most loyal supporters (who undoubtedly email, twitter and share your content ultimately bringing in more people)?

    1. Nick Oliva

      classic… but the drug dealer model works…

    2. atimoshenko

      Whoever benefits more is willing to pay more. So they do pay, both by making an effort to spread the content, and by a subscription. It is more than fair. I personally subscribe to the FT and am glad to support a team of journalists that I respect, and whose work I benefit from.

    3. ShanaC

      A part of me wants to say the following:Technically this is how economics work. Non-marginal value = expensive thing.Unless you say the news has a marginal value. Or a marginal value for some.What I really want to see is what the new Supply/Demand curve looks like currently for news versus cost for production. Just something that I see, or rather want to see.(and Daniel, I see elements of what you all have been hacking at, nice job.)

    4. fredwilson

      yes, i believe those who read the paper online every day should be happy tohelp support itthose who visit once or twice a month via a twitter link or a google searchshould not

      1. Harvest Creative

        I agree. I think the strategy is viable. Use free content to draw traffic and convert on the regular users who derive benefit from repeated use. If I pop on the site a couple times a month I’m not going to pay, but if I’m there every morning to use it as my preferred morning dose of news…I’d pay.One of the businesses I own is in a completely different field, but we use a similar strategy. Draw traffic with a free resource for everyone, but have a revenue generating premium feature or core product ready to convert your active users. It took us 3 years to build a sufficient level of traffic to capitalize, but now momentum has taken over and the free calendar brings us revenue generating clients at a steady pace. I know our approach isn’t innovative, but it’s proven by many companies including a couple I own. The NYT should be able to capitalize on brand recognition to make the transition more rapidly. The key will be adapting their culture to operate a different business model. That and a smart campaign to help users embrace the transition.I also think it’s important to note the shift toward local. The internet has made anyone a potential news breaker. This shift also opens the door for opportunity to larger organizations that can efficiently break stories at a national level and aggregate at a local level. Reader convenience is key. I don’t want to search 100 different news sites. I’d be willing to pay for one that brings fresh content and does a good job of aggregating as well.

      2. David Ulevitch

        “I believe those who read the paper online every day should be happy to support it” is easy to agree with. Unfortunately, that’s not the model that has made the Internet successful.By that logic, you use Google a ton, and so you should pay for it. But after reading their Q4 yesterday and watched them bust through their previous ceilings, it’s fairly clear the last thing Google wants to do is charge their users to see their properties.

        1. fredwilson

          Dofferent services require different business models. There is no one way on the internet

        2. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

          I agree with Fred on this.Google’s business model is to sell advertising + the people who use Google like to read ads (kind of the way people liked reading classifieds several decades ago).Once people lose interest in that, Google will tank.Nit saying I agree with the NYTimes model, though — and I also agree that having some celler factory as a business partner is not exactly wise (neither from the journalism POV nor as a business model). I really doubt that the NYTimes has come up with many good solutions on the web yet (perhaps apart from noticing that sites like About.COM and Boston.COM are assets rather than gravestones … only they haven’t figured out a way to actually turn these valuable properties into profits [primarily because they don’t listen to me ;]).

  7. Hitoshi O

    PPV–pay per visit.

  8. Nick Oliva

    Totally agree… I would add that I’d also glady sign up to pay for Facebook. To razz a friend that complained about Facebook looking into pay models a few months ago, I jokingly created a group called “I’ll gladly pay US $10 per month for Facebook without ads or polls”….There is one point here which is that I’m happy to pay money to avoid paying attention [i.e., to ads], but I’d be very unhappy if they expected me to do both…. So, I’m hoping that the NYT model won’t still have those full page annoyances that interrupt your links once in a while.

  9. Jamaaludeen Khan

    I agree with this type of freemium model. It sure beats segregating content into free and paid – because as you said, how do you differentiate between the “value” of the content pieces. It’s going to be interesting to see how ideas and models such as these mature on the Web.

  10. chudson

    This is a great post – I’m glad to see more online content providers experimenting with the freemium model. I’m actually working on a conference focused on freemium business models and the challenges in making it work. We’ve got some cool companies lined up (Dropbox, Xobni, Pandora, Evernote, YouSendIt,, and Automattic (WordPress) – we’re hoping to add some online content publishers as well. If you have ideas for other speakers / topics, let me know – we’re still on the hunt for some good names. I’m glad to see Fred advancing the dialog here.http://freemiumsummit-avc.e

  11. sagar123

    The FT model is bogus. If I want that tenth article and not want to pay for it, I will have my sister get on the site, copy and paste it within an email and send it over. I would like to see the numbers around paid content before being sold on this concept.

    1. fredwilson

      and people steal music too. but plenty pay for it.

      1. dorothy_mcgivney

        Agreed. Like with LaLa. Listen to any song once, it’s free; listen to it more than a couple of times, you have to buy it. And I do. Even though I can get the songs for free elsewhere, I enjoy supporting LaLa and find its services superior to other music providers. So I’m a paying subscriber.That said, I haven’t found any online-only editorial content that I’m willing to subscribe to and pay for – yet.

  12. Clay Schossow

    Agree that this is the right way to go. Unlike the WSJ, this will keep all of their content open, which will keep a high impression count and thus bring in more ad $. Undoubtedly, the impression count will slide some, as some folks are less likely to click around to random articles for a fear of paying, however, I think the impression slide will be rather marginal and the frequent users who pay will more than offset it.I will definitely be a paying customer come 2011. I previously resisted Times Select. I was unwilling to pay to just get access to Opinions, I felt life had enough of those for free. However, now that all of their great content will be in the same class, I’ll be willing to pay so I can continue to stay up to date from one of the best resources around.I applaud NYT for doing this and think it’s the right step. I think they maybe should’ve tried to get it up and running in 2010, but hey, as a (future) paying customer, I won’t complain about waiting a little longer…

  13. Chris Meserole

    it seems to me the new freemium plan is not a proposal for a long-term business model, but simply a bridge to get to the middle of this decade. by that point it should be much clearer what a web-native format for news creation and distribution looks like, and the Times is smart enough to know that its eventual business model will have to be rooted in that format. so expect another announcement in five years.that said, it’s still worth wondering whether the bridge itself will work.and that depends on how they price it. can they get 1 million users to pay $10/mo or $100/yr? if so, they’ll have a revenue stream in excess of $100 million, which isn’t enough to offset the print ad revenue but is enough to buy them a few more years.the problem is, to hit $100m, they need a significant number of their younger readers (ie, digital natives) to ante up. but i’m not sure that will work, because we already *are* paying for our news. in effect, the money my parents once paid for a newspaper subscription is folded into the $500/yr my wife and i pay for internet access. just like the fee i pay comcast, the print subscriber fee only really covered the cost of last-mile distribution.yet many younger readers probably can’t afford another $100/yr on top of the $500 internet fee. between flat wages and educational debts, internet alone is hard enough for must of us to cover.perhaps my wife and i are just outliers, but unless the cost of internet access itself comes down, i don’t see how they get enough people to pay the price they need us to. which is a shame.

  14. tedryan

    In a time of profound indistry change they are simply trying to put their square peg in the new round hole. They are being disintermediated. Classic buggy whip move.

  15. jonathanmendez

    Like any other business (especially ones with free competition one click away) one has to look at the Times unique value proposition. Looking at the last month of internal Search data… it shows that about 20% (10 out of 50) of the NYTimes content areas contain “unique” content. Things like columnists, crossword, obits, book reviews, etc. This is stuff of value. People will pay for it.The other 80% is generic “Obama,” “China,” “Healthcare,” The only value here is the (diminishing?) brand value that the Times has. Having studied the search behavior on the I can tell you there is remarkable consistency month-to-month on the content people are looking for the NYTimes to provide…so that 20% number is the UVP and maybe you can throw another 5-10% on top for the brand equity.My sense tells me that this is actually a play to preserve print – or at least that is definitely part of the thinking here. It was well documented in the American Press Institute report from last year that showed preserving print was a primary driver for 71% of newspapers introducing paid access. I’ve not seen much written about that in response to this however interestingly word had it that the digital side was against this move and the executive editors were the ones pushing it.

  16. Phanio

    So glad that your put this out again. When I saw today that Hulu was looking to start charging – I thought of you and the discussion that followed when you posted about this last summer.As it seems that more are coming out and trying to monetize – do you think this trend will continue? It seems that these organizations only needed a spark (something that Murdoch could not do last summer) – and I think they got the spark with this bad economy.My fear is the buzz from this will compel Washington to take notice, especially if they think they can tax it.Final question, based on your post a few weeks ago regarding online users getting more and better information from social media – do you think that with these groups now charging for content – it will drive more people to social sites for news and information?

    1. fredwilson

      i do not believe social sites can or will charge. their users create theircontent

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        And their quality is frequently dubious – a fundamental flaw in the whole Social Media explosion, from this perspective. It’s at the ego-stage for many regional/niche bloggers, currently. This isn’t sustainable.

  17. Charles Birnbaum

    I too hope it works. Social media is a wonderful way to stay informed and in the flow, but it will never replace the value of a well-written article. I think this will force editors at the NYT to provide readers with more good stuff. Content still rules and I suspect that the NYT will have some modicum of success with this Freemium approach. I had the opportunity to meet with their digital team a few months ago and they understand social media better than you would think.

  18. korain

    any thoughts on facebook trying a similar model? i think it is getting to a point where is is ubiquitous enough to try a freemium model without impacting the subscriber base drastically.

  19. ShanaC

    I don’t think this will work. I think it might radically shift the nature of news and newsgathering more so than before. What might end up happening is a throwback to the start of the telegraph. Essentially the reason why the AP exists in this country is because all the big “good” newspapers got together, colluded, and spun out a non-profit organization so they could manhandle all the news coming out of telegraphs first, particularly when it came to ships. The newspapers realized they would lose money if they just let the wires spread without intercepting the news first. They would have no sense of analysis if they couldn’t even think of the news first, and weren’t able to break investigative stories.It sounds like we are going back to the system pre-AP, except on a global level. Although this sounds like a decent method, I’m not totally sure if it fights away the perception of “I’m paying for a lot of little things and will be bled dry by slow cuts” If it is a total paywall after xyz, it might make it very hard to attract and keep the midrange customer, which was a typical news consumer (and in some ways still is- even if it is also through tv, or the internet) to this day.I feel like parts of this issue was hashed out the posts about comments. I feel like this kind of paywall- you still may be indirectly monetizing the content (most popular content among certain subgroups of people), not the people. We’re still not drilled down to a model where people are monetized for engaging in the content, growing it, and changing it, which is in some way the end goal of what people want: to be engaged by the news. If you want to monetize the people, you need to monetize the community (and I know you hate that.). Pay to be part of the community…

  20. RichardF

    I think you are completely correct about the FT’s subscription model it does allow drive by visitors to see what an excellent website has become and this is what really allows them to charge at all. Personally I think it is the gold standard that other news sites should aspire to.Brand loyalty only takes you so far when are free alternatives out there however in the FT’s case there is no real alternative. The FT website is so far beyond a newspaper now, the amount of information, analysis and commentary available for the price of the subscription makes it incredible value for money.The FT have constantly iterated their subscription model to optimise it since they went online and I guess they will have do to continue to do this as more readers shift from offline to online, particularly with respect to the amount of the subscription charge. Currently I would imagine the contribution to profit from the newspaper hugely outweighs that from the website (if it is contributing a profit at all) and that will be the dilemma for Pearson (FT owner) how do they ensure that they maintain their current level of profit when the newspaper dies out? (which is not as far away as some newspaper owners would like to think)E-readers/tablets could be their interim saviour….. when they come down in price…. perhaps newpapers should think about selling branded E-reader/subscription packages

  21. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

    I’m sorry, but just last night, twitter did the exact opposite.The essentially said “F the audience”I mean, seriously: Putting 2 twitter noobs on the technology SUL (2.0) is ludicrous. And I looked at some of the other lists Carly Fiorina + Chad Hurly for business? LMFAO! :DCompletely ridiculous – twitter’s management is saying: “users don’t matter — WE MATTER”Let’s see what @1938media has to say about that!:) nmw[sorry if a *little* off-topic — but I see a link between “user” + “subscription” ;]

    1. kidmercury

      i tweeted yesterday whether or not twitter has any journalistic responsibility here with their SUL. i saw lots of mainstream politicians and news sources. no 9/11 truthers though.

  22. Michael Beckner

    Isn’t this a golden opportunity to finally leverage the zillions of blogs that reference — and link to — their work?I would like to see the NYT treat bloggers like tech companies treat developers: Give them some kind of API access to content (call it Fair Use Plus) that accredited outlets can re-blog. They could even do the Indeed jiu-jitsu of paying bloggers by sharing in a cut of ads inserted into the content they republish, or by paying a bounty on every click-through that results in a paying sub.Maybe I’m missing something here (I usually am). But it seems there’s gotta be a way in this to also turn bloggers into media partners, and help offset any potential losses.

    1. rjk

      But will bloggers keep talking about and linking to NYT articles if they can’t be sure their readers will be able to read those articles? This freemium model may suit Fred Wilson: content consumer just fine, but Fred Wilson: content producer may be less likely to link to NYT articles realizing that, at least some, of his readers will not able to read the articles.

  23. Darren Herman

    I know it’s late to chime in, but I think the model for the Times should be built around timely access to information.News Alerts = free – with link to…Premium coverage of breaking stories (incl. sports) = 12-24 hoursFeatures, profiles, analysis, NYT magazine = 1 weekSo, if you are a subscriber, you get immediate access to everything. If you are a non-paying user, you get access to everything only after a defined time period.Why I like this is b/c this still allows the ad-sales team to sell and for the times to generate solid traffic levels. Also helps search by not creating a walled garden.

  24. AlanPearlstein

    slightly off topic but are the newspaper companies necessary anymore? Reporters should just write for themselves and readers can read the articles written by the writers they prefer. I realize I am oversimplifying this, but the reason newspaper companies came to exist was to fund printing, distribution, advertising sales efforts, editing and paying the writers. We don’t need them to fund printing or distribution anymore, I can be my own editor, the writer can sell their own ad space through an ad network and pay themselves.

  25. chefbikram

    Did anyone answer the question about simply clearing cookies so as to avoid the “counting” of visits?

  26. slowblogger

    I am still thinking about whether this strategy is in line with customer loyalty, one of few business wisdoms worth lasting in my opinion.…I am evaluating two possible conclusions:1) It violates customer loyalty. It looks fancy and different, but not really from the old way of “give discount to new customers and exploit loyal ones.”2) It does not violate customer loyalty. New customers often need to try some samples before they decide to buy. So, there are really three, not two, segments of customers in the loyalty life cycle: trial (do not know you enough), new (know you), loyal. The key is how to distinguish trial and new.If (2) is right, your pricing will be like this:- Low (free) to trial customers- High to new customers- Low to loyal customersThe key must be where you draw the line between initial vs. new. Those who used to believe in outright free (but not really recently) are more likely drawing the line wrong and include free riders too generously.What you need to fight against is the same no matter what your business is and whether it’s 19th or 21st century. That is your desire to show the numbers, big and quick. You should resist it and care about loyal customers.I highly recommend Loyalty Effect, or other loyalty books by Fred Reichheld.

    1. fredwilson

      I think it is number two. And you are right that they need to offer more value to the most loyal. I don’t think it has to be in cash though

      1. slowblogger

        Freemium, broadly defined, is tried and true. In Korea, you go to a supermarket and they cook and give you samples of beef or pizza every corner.I think the FT and NYT strategies, done correctly, could be more aligned with customer loyalty. The “most popular articles are free, less popular ones are charged.” model that was praised before seems more likely to exploit loyal customers (if loyal ones tend to read more of the less popular articles). Although, I think the devil is in the detail, and it’s hard to generalize.One may say the digital contents’ marginal cost is really low, and giving away them for free does not add costs to loyal customers. That is not right. The true economic cost is always the opportunity cost. ‘If’ you were paid from those free customers, you could lower the price for the loyal ones. On the other hand, if more free samples is the best way to get new paying customers, the cost is justified and it might be the best way to serve well your loyal customers. Again, it’s subtle.I agree with you it does not have to be cash. One caution is that rewarding new customers with cash while thanking loyal customers in kind (or with a thank-you letter) could look just a diplomatical rhetoric. People feel if you are sincere or not. Think telcos offering cash for new customers and give you some worthless coupons for loyal customers. It becomes a game.

  27. fredwilson

    i believe the idea is everything is free for those who only visit a fewtimes a monthfor those who visit regularly, they want you to subscribe

  28. no way

    i promise i will never payand i read more NY Times articles than anyone

  29. Glenn Gutierrez

    That’s what I really like about this business model because it really opens up to gaining organic traffic and getting people to get hooked on the service. If the quality keeps up to pace, frequent users would be willing to pay. That’s how I got hooked to Pandora’s music service and became a paying member.

  30. andyswan

    Well I think you’re talking about two very different things. Pandora offers a premium service which is different from the free service. It’s a different product. Not so with the NYT strategy.

  31. Akshay

    @andyswan – Actually, I think he is talking about the same thing…..Pandora also offers a “freemium” service currently for “heavy users.” Once you reach a certain number of hours in a month (I believe it is 40 hours/month), they ask that you pay $1 to continue usage.In this scenario, its not hard to see some users who reach the $1 limit, who wouldn’t mind paying another $2 a month to get an uninterrupted ad-free version (premium) of Pandora. Now, that’s a different product… true, but I think the freemium to premium model has been very well implemented here…Specifically they segment the audience correctly – or as best as they can.Heavy users -> Paid users (freemuim) -> Paid users (Premium). Its an easy escalation.

  32. andyswan

    Oh ok I didn’t think pandora ever charged for the free, ad-supported product.  My mistake.I guess we’ll see if this works or not.  On a side note, with the nyt online…why not just clear your cookies?

  33. Dan

    Good Point – For the savvy internet users – why not clear your cookies and get the content for free? Seems liked a flawed model if more and more users start to clear their cookies. Thoughts?