Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Times Paywall Finally Goes Up

The New York Times announced today that its new paywall has gone up for readers in Canada, and that the paywall for the United States and the rest of the world will go up on March 28. According to the email I got, the rollout in Canada will allow the company "to fine-tune the customer experience before [the] global launch." Does this mean that if our experience is bad, we can blame Canada?

Readers will be able to view twenty articles per month, and after that level is reached, will not be able to view anything more unless they are digital subscribers. I was happy to see that "Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit." That seems like a reasonable approach to me, and one that should help to keep Times stories in wide circulation. Here's New York magazine's take on the paywall. The Times is gambling that regular visitors to the website will be willing to pay to access it. The question really boils down to whether the Times and other newspapers can "reverse 15 years of consumer behavior and build a business around online subscriptions?" It's safe to say that newspapers, both in the United States and around the world, will be watching.

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