The New York Times began charging for full access to its website and mobile services on Monday. The third-largest U.S. newspaper is charging $15 every four weeks, or $195 a year, to read more than 20 articles a month on its website. That fee also covers a subscription on the newspaper’s software for smartphones. The new fees kicked in at about 2 p.m. EDT.
Readers who want unlimited access on the website and the Times’ software for Apple Inc.’s iPad tablet computer have to pay $20 every four weeks, or $260 annually. A digital subscription covering the website and both mobile options costs $35 every four weeks, or $455 annually.
The New York Times Co. is charging for digital access because online advertising revenue hasn’t grown fast enough to offset losses in print ads.
Bill Grueskin, dean of the Columbia School of Journalism echoed those sentiments, saying online advertising was “still not generating a tremendous amount of revenue.”
Print subscribers will keep free online access. The Times is hoping to bring in more digital revenue while giving print readers more reason to keep their subscriptions.
The company declined to say Monday how many people have signed up for a digital subscription.
Steve Myers, of Poynter.org, spoke with WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell and wondered whether the likely drop in unique users would mean less relevance.
“We’re going to also see how this effects how you stay in the conversation, how this affects whether people are talking about your content,” he said.
There are still ways for Web surfers to keep reading Times articles for free after they reach the 20-article limit in a given month.
Readers coming from a search engine such as Google or Yahoo get five free articles per search service per day. And there are no limits on the amount of traffic coming from two of the Web’s most popular tools for sharing information, Facebook and Twitter.
Amazon.com Inc. said Monday that people who subscribe to The New York Times on the Kindle will get access to the newspaper’s website at no extra cost. It didn’t say when this would go into effect, just that subscribers will get more information in the coming weeks. Subscribers pay $20 a month to read the Times on the Kindle.
The Times said users of the iPhone and Android devices have to download a new version of the Times’ software. An updated BlackBerry app is coming soon, so those users will get free access for now.