I don’t have a print subscription to The Times, but like many Millennials, I receive NYTimes.com alerts to my Gmail account, I use the free NYTimes app on my smart phone to see Top News and I read articles of interest that show up in my personal twitter and Facebook feeds. Now the publisher wants to tell me something. An image of the letter is below, but here are the highlights:
- NYTimes.com is now offering digital subscriptions. This service was rolled out to customers in Canada on March 18 and will become available to the U.S. and the rest of the world on March 28
- NYTimes.com readers without a subscription will have access to a maximum of 20 articles/videos/slideshows/features a month. To access more, online readers will have to subscribe.
- Current subscribers to the print issue will have unlimited access to NYTimes.com
- Smartphone and tablet apps will still provide the top news section for free, but to access other sections through the apps, readers will have to subscribe.
- There is no option to solely purchase a subscription to NYTimes.com, subscribers much choose:
– $15 every 4 weeks for NYTimes.com and smartphone app access
- $20 every 4 weeks for NYTimes.com and tablet app access
- $35 every 4 weeks for NYTimes.com and smartphone app, and tablet app access
– $29.60 every 4 weeks for NYTimes.com access and daily print issue home delivery (this is the rate in Atlanta, rates vary based on location)
- Reader’s accessing NYTimes.com content via blogs, social media or search engines (like Google) will not be limited to the 20 features a month.
This new policy leaves me feeling conflicted. On one hand, I believe the free flow of news and information via technology is one of the greatest things to happen in my lifetime. With a device and connection to the internet, we have access to endless amounts of up-to-date information. My constant companion and smart phone tells me things before they can even be formatted for print, let alone delivered to my front door step. And much of this is free. And while I’d argue that this type of information exchange is invaluable to society, value typically comes with a price.
If we want something that is high quality, we usually have to pay for it. While the free flow of news and information makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, I have to remember that newspapers are a business – businesses that appear to require subscription and advertising dollars in order to survive. Yes, I want free information, but I also want accurate and clear information compiled by credible sources. What’s the point of receiving free information if it’s wrong?
There are a few points I find strange. First, why the price difference between the smart phone and tablet applications? Will they be dramatically different? Why is there no incentive for the unlimited option? It just appears to be the cost of the two options combined. Technically, doesn’t this option require subscribers to pay twice for the NYTimes.com access? Why is this change happening now? Is there any relation to the new Apple App store subscription policy entitling the company to 30 percent of all subscriptions sales through the App store?
While considering whether a digital subscription was worthwhile for me I realized that the way I currently access information from NYTimes (via blog, Google, social media, top news on my smart phone) means I will be relatively unaffected by these policies.
This leaves me wondering how many other Millenials are in the same situation and what audience is this really affecting? Who out there is the 20+ NYTimes.com article reader that only access content via the official website? Are tablet subscribers surprised that accessing the New York Times will come with a subscription fee when many other tablet media applications already require one? And finally, is this news revolutionary enough to be worthy of a NYTimes.com News Alert in my Gmail account or is that free service gone as well?