If you’re at all interested in the thoughts behind the New York Times pay wall, definitely check out this interview Peter Kafka of All Things D did with Martin Nisenholtz, who is in charge of the Times’ digital strategy.
There were a few key take-aways:
The Times is limiting referrals from Google because it can. Specifically, it’s taking advantage of Google’s “first click free” program. (Worth noting that the 5-a-day limit gives you another 150 articles or so a month above the initial 20-per-month cut off. So it’s not particularly punitive.)
The Times is charging more for access to its iPad app than for smartphone apps, because it thinks it can. iPad users spend more time with the paper, and the Times thinks people who spend more time with the paper will pay more for it.
The Times only expects a small sliver of its Web readers to become paying users. Niseholtz doesn’t exactly say this out loud, but if you piece together his commentary, that’s what he’s saying. He doesn’t expect the “vast majority” of readers to ever see the paywall, so what he’s really trying to do is convert a percentage of the remaining minority. But if you’ve read Doctor’s piece, then you already know this.
The Times isn’t trying to price its digital subscriptions in a way that protects its print subscription business. On the one hand, this makes sense–after all, the subscription plans are aimed at converting heavy users of its Web site who aren’t already print subscribers. On the other hand, given that print subscribers remain the Times’ most valuable asset, this one seems hard to reconcile.
Print vs Digital Pricing:
Nisenholtz: Not really, no. I don’t think anybody ever had a discussion of favoring print over the Web. This research was done on digital loyalists. Obviously, the print subscribers are very, very valuable to the franchise, but I can’t remember a single discussion where we linked the digital price point to our print subscriptions.