The New York Times Takes a Stand Against Free Content, Others Could Follow

The Times to Charge for Frequent Access to Its Web Site (New York Times)

The newspaper industry has been in steady decline for a number of years, and certainly the Internet can take credit for some of this (but not all).? The ease of access to information offered by the Internet, along with the early Wild West mentality that someone on the Internet can take whatever they want, as led most website users to expect to access news articles at no cost.? Users have argued that they are entitled to free access because these sites are advertising supported.

Well, that “everything should be free” mindset is not sitting well with newspapers who have debated for several years as to what to do about it.? Now it looks like these guys are no longer willing to play the game, at least not the major players.? As this story describes, The New York Times, has decided that free only goes so far.? It now joins The Wall Street Journal as the top publishers in the pay-for-content game.? The stance these publishers are taking in charging for content could be a game changer.

Yet, from a marketing perspective, the issues for moving in this direction are enormous:

  • What will happen to their readership?
  • What will happen to their online ad revenue?
  • What price should they charge?
  • How can they control any of this?

Of course, newspapers are not the only content providers facing these issues.? Magazines, television networks and movie producers face the same problems.? All seem to wrestle with what to do but with these two powerhouse publishers charging for content there may soon be a groundswell among publishers to join in.

This is likely to be one of the big stories of 2010!

Starting in early 2011, visitors to will get a certain number of articles free every month before being asked to pay a flat fee for unlimited access. Subscribers to the newspaper?s print edition will receive full access to the site.

Is this something that only a major newspaper can get away with or can smaller, local newspapers also make money by charging for content?

Image by Joe Shlabotnik