Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Will the NY Times' Move to Freemium Make a Difference?

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It has come to my attention that the NY Times, a publication I read on a daily basis, but mostly just their blog DealBook, will in 2011 implement a metered system whereby after a certain number of read articles you will be required to register and therefore pay.

Initially when I read this, my first thought was that it might be easy to circumvent a counter if it's tracking an IP by using a proxy. This would be quite hassle, so it'd probably just lead people to finding other mediums to get their information if paying for content is a problem.

Evaluating the decision leads to the general question of which is greater: ad revenue from a freely available Times, or subscription fees from a limited one. Presumably, dropping the current ads the Times has on its website would be a requisite if they were to switch to a freemium model. I know I'd personally be very upset if I were to subscribe and found the website littered with the same amount of ads.

Moreover, I think the concern becomes whether or not people are willing to dramatically change the sources from which they get information, or whether they'll just pony up the additional cash to keep from changing. The promotion of what might be called "new media", sites such as this blog, is a positive externality of publications like the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the NY Times going to a freemium model. That being said, they also probably won't get as much link traffic since I certainly would never cite something that not everyone could view.

It's somewhat unfortunate that I won't be able to view the Times with the same wanton freeness I used to. However, I'll have no problem substituting in new sources of information. It does, in my opinion, create an opportunity to contemplate the future of "old media" sources like newspapers. I'll be curious to see if the freemium model works.

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