What We Know About The New York Times Paywall So Far

Details are leaking out ahead of the launch of The New York Times‘s content paywall, which is expected to go live sometime next month.

Those who read only a few articles on NYTimes.com per month (about 85% of The New York Times‘s current online readership) will be mainly unaffected by the changes, as the Times plans to allow visitors to continue to read an as-yet unannounced number of articles free each month. In addition, those who come across a NYTimes.com article through a Google search can view the first page, even if they’ve exceeded their monthly allotment.

Heavier readers, however, will need to chose between three different subscription options to continue getting their daily dose of The New York Times online, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal:

  1. A website-only subscription for unlimited access to the site (more than $20/month).
  2. A digital package that includes access to both the site and the Times‘s iPad app (more than $10/month).
  3. A print subscription that bundles free web access with a print subscription ($11.70+/month).

These prices are by no means final, the WSJ‘s source insists. Bloomberg reported last week that website access alone would cost closer to $20 per month.

An extra $10 per month for access to The New York Times‘s iPad app seems suspiciously pricey to us. Perhaps the “digital package” will include full access via Kindle (currently $20 per month) and smartphone apps as well, or, as Felix Salmon suggests, the Times might be “doing everything it can to drive its iPad-owning readers away from the app and towards the built-in browser.”

After all, if Apple decides to insist on a 30% share of iPad subscription fees, encouraging users to read the web version on their iPads might be a sound idea.

It’s a tough proposition: potentially lucrative revenue from in-app advertising, minus app development costs and Apple’s cut, versus complete control of subscriber data and revenue via a simple, easy-to-update, mobile web version compatible across multiple tablet devices.

An extra $10 per month for iPad access may just be the magic formula then — and if few enough subscribers sign on, may be enough cause to stop the Times from sinking further resources into an iPad-specific offering.

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