Monday, February 22, 2010

New York Times execs: don't call it a paywall

It's not a paywall, it's a metered solution: at least that is what Janet Robinson, the president & CEO of the New York Times, would like readers to believe. But whatever it is, the Time is committed to implementing their new paid service.

The Times unveiled its approach at a paidContent conference in New York.

One weakness to the Times approach involves the traffic being fed into their web site from bloggers and other news sites. "For the readers who come to the 60 percent of users come from the homepage. There are people who come to the as a destination. There’s a broad group of people who come from the side doors. They’ll still be able to read for free. But at a certain point, they’ll hit a paywall and they’ll become subscribers," said Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

The problem is that this does not take into account the fact that bloggers would be the one who would have to pay, then link the stories for their readers. But if experience with TimesSelect is any guide, bloggers may not only be loath to pay for a subscription, but may not directly link, either.

Nevertheless, the Times clearly wants to balance traffic, advertising with subscription revenue -- showing a sensitivity to losing ad revenue if the doors are closed tightly. Is this a pragmatic approach? Or simply a political solution that somewhat satisfies the conflicting interests at the Times? If reports of conflicts over iPad pricing are true, it may simply be a way Times management can present these new media opportunities to internal constituencies.