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Old 03-26-2010, 03:43 PM   #1
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The Times will add Paywall in June

crossposted from The Digital Reader

For thos who don't know, this means they’re going to make you start paying to read the news on their website. Fine by me; I’ll just get my news elsewhere. From the announcement:

Quote:
News International today announces that The Times and The Sunday Times will start charging for access to their digital journalism in June using a pricing model that is simple and affordable.Both titles will launch new websites in early May, separating their digital presence for the first time and replacing the existing, combined site, Times Online. The two new sites will be available for a free trial period to registered customers.

From June, the new sites, www.thetimes.co.uk and www.thesundaytimes.co.uk, will be available for a charge of £1 for a day’s access or £2 for a week’s subscription. Payment will give customers access to both sites. The weekly subscription will also give access to the e-paper and certain new applications. Access to the digital services will be included in the seven-day subscriptions of print customers to The Times and The Sunday Times.
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Old 03-26-2010, 05:24 PM   #2
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I already added them to my hosts file. Shrug.

(And I very very rarely /ever/ take something out...)
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
crossposted from The Digital Reader

For thos who don't know, this means they’re going to make you start paying to read the news on their website. Fine by me; I’ll just get my news elsewhere. From the announcement:
It's not free to the Times (and other news sources) to produce articles and content, to send reporters out to cover and write stories... so why do you think you deserve to get it for free?
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Old 03-26-2010, 07:00 PM   #4
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Who said anything about "deserve", or "free"? They've chosen a different model of content from advert-supported, as is their choice. However, in the longer run the only way to make that pay is to cut off other sources.

Wrong shoe, wrong foot.
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Old 03-26-2010, 07:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookwerm View Post
It's not free to the Times (and other news sources) to produce articles and content, to send reporters out to cover and write stories... so why do you think you deserve to get it for free?
I didn't say that I deserve to get it for free. I said that I would get my news elsewhere. There are many free sources of news; much of it identical. There is actually very little that The Times produces that can't be found elsewhere, and that very little isn't worth paying for.
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Old 03-26-2010, 07:50 PM   #6
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Because the revenue model for newspapers is primarily ads, not subscriptions.

The publisher has lower costs with web based.

The publisher knows more about what articles have been read, how often, and from approximately where.

The publisher can easily make the ads more persistent than on paper.

Old news is more accessible and thus articles have viewing value well beyond print media.

Blogs about the news keep the customer looking at ads for a much longer time if the publisher writes interesting news.

The publishing cycle can be anything the publisher wants - and can even be continuous.
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Old 03-26-2010, 08:19 PM   #7
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I'll certainly give it a try. They're offering a free trial anyway. It's only going to be £2 a week and, if they maintain the quality and remove the ads and the other animated distractions, it could be worthwhile.
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Old 03-26-2010, 08:24 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by dasym View Post
I'll certainly give it a try. They're offering a free trial anyway. It's only going to be £2 a week and, if they maintain the quality and remove the ads and the other animated distractions, it could be worthwhile.
I'm not seeing any "we'll remove the ads" announcement. When people buy paper newspapers, they get ads. And as far as animated distractions--
Quote:
TheTimes.co.uk will make the most of moving images, dynamic infographics, interactive comment and personalised news feeds.
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Old 03-26-2010, 08:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
I'm not seeing any "we'll remove the ads" announcement. When people buy paper newspapers, they get ads. And as far as animated distractions--
That's true. Oh well, the free trial will show whether it's worthwhile.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:39 PM   #10
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As DawnFalcon and asjogren have pointed out, the primary revenue source for newpapers is adverts, not subscriptions. To say, as bookwerm does, that subscribers pay for producing articles and content and pay reporters salaries is stretching the truth a bit, IMO. At best subscribers pay for paper stock and distribution costs.

Since there will be no paper or distribution costs with a digital edition I cannot see any moral reason to charge for a digital edition. They will still be garnering advert revenue but not incurring any delivery costs. And I definitely cannot imagine them removing the adverts from the digital edition. Indeed, I expect those adverts to be increased and more intrusive.

The only reason, in my mind, for the charge is greed, pure and simple. They can so they will.
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Old 03-27-2010, 12:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
crossposted from [URL="http://www.the-digital-reader.com/"] For thos who don't know, this means they’re going to make you start paying to read the news on their website. Fine by me; I’ll just get my news elsewhere. From the announcement:
We all know that this isn't going to work out. The question is, why not? I mean, we are willing to buy a newspaper at a dollar a day, so why not a webpaper?

Maybe it's because the context of a webpaper is the internet browser, and internet browser pages are "free." That is, when we go to a webpage, we are not often confronted immediately with a demand for logging in and doing the password thing, and even when we are, there's no cost associated with the process. So psychologically, we are not prepared to deal with the idea that something on a webpage should be paid for.

So maybe what is needed is a different context.

Apparently the New York Times thinks so - check out [URL="https://timesreader.nytimes.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/TimesReader?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&campaign Id=36Q38"] - and notice how like an iPad the demo looks.

It seems to me that what newspapers should try to sell is not content, but structure. By "structure," I mean a digital equivalent of the way a newspaper layout and ordering is structured in a print paper. And one thing that could be done would be to allow you to structure your own reading procedure.

For example, I do not trust the NYT to accurately report political news. So I never read the first section of the newspaper. I don't actually buy the NYT, but from time to time I find a copy in a coffee shop. I sit down, discard the front section immediately, then read the Arts or the Technology or Science sections. But I might be willing to pay if the first thing I saw when I opened the NYT app was what I wanted to read rather than the front page. Or maybe a "home page" with the topics or writers I have previously identified set up for me. Or maybe if I could "star" articles to read later, saved for me in a "read later" section maintained until I unstarred the article.

It will be interesting to see if anything like this is incorporated into their iPad app.
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Old 03-27-2010, 01:12 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Harmon View Post
We all know that this isn't going to work out. The question is, why not? I mean, we are willing to buy a newspaper at a dollar a day, so why not a webpaper?
1) Newspapers have some use when you're done reading them. You can give it to someone else to read (lots of that on the commuter trains), use the paper to pad things for shipping, use it for craft projects or to drain foods after cooking. Admittedly, these are all small uses -- but real, and internet access (geeze, not even *downloadable* internet access) doesn't provide them.

2) You can cut out & keep interesting articles from physical newspapers--clip the photo of your cousin's school project, save the sports columns about your favorite team, magnet one of the cartoons to your fridge until everyone in the house has seen it. While you can, technically, print-and-save online newspaper articles (unless they're taking weird measures to try to prevent that), it doesn't have the same appeal--and besides, then you have to pay for ink & paper in addition to access to the content.

3) Always a problem when you take something that used to be free, and start charging for it. The sales pitch has to be a lot more than "we can't afford to keep giving this away." They'll have to offer something *extra*, and fast--and if that something isn't appealing to most of their readers, those readers will find news & editorial content elsewhere.

4) I suspect they *vastly* overrate the login, much less paywall, barrier to new readers. Convincing someone to fork over a dollar (or a pound?) for a single issue of a newspaper is easy; they know what they can expect from a newspaper. (Also, odds are they can find someone else who reads the paper first--and ask for yesterday's copy--to decide if they like it.) Convincing that same person to fork over the same amount of money for 1-day access to a website involves convincing them that (1) your web design skills are decent, (2) your content is worth reading, (3) your ads are not annoying enough that they want to leave the site, (4) your site is coded for easy reading *on their browser,* and (5) they have time to devote to reading it today, since they can't come back tomorrow and finish the parts they didn't get to.

5) Privacy issues. When I buy a physical newspaper, I'm anonymous. Buying online means giving the vendor my name, email address & credit card info. I'm a lot more cautious about buying online than at a store; I have to think not just "do I want this?" but also "how much am I willing to tell this company about me?"

All those are generally considered subconsciously; the conscious thought tends to be something like, "login WHAT? Hell with that; I bet slashdot has *something* interesting..."
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Old 03-27-2010, 01:19 AM   #13
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If this trend expands and continues, we'll end up getting free news only from Xinhua News..
It's not our fault they can't make money from advertising revenue. It's their fault.
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Old 03-27-2010, 01:28 AM   #14
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Since there will be no paper or distribution costs with a digital edition I cannot see any moral reason to charge for a digital edition. They will still be garnering advert revenue but not incurring any delivery costs.
But every reader of the digital version is a lost full-price sale! They *must* charge as much for the e-edition or their print editions will stop selling, just like the publishers! Also, e-text is easily stolen--someone's going to copy the article into their blog and then people can read it without paying for it, so they need to charge a bit extra to cover the costs of security & sales lost to e-news piracy.

It all makes perfect sense when you consider it the right way!
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Old 03-27-2010, 02:14 AM   #15
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If one subscribes to the physical paper on a weekly basis, what is the cost? Is it discounted from the cost of buying a separate daily paper?

To me, the price they're going to be charging seems high for a digital edition. That's like, what, $166/yr? As has been mentioned, they don't have the printing or distribution costs, and they will still be hitting the reader with advertisements. So it's a win-win for them if they can get a sufficient number of digital subscribers.
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