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NYT Paywall Details: 20 Free Articles, Canada Launch Today

  |  March 17, 2011   |  Comments

Overages will be tolerated for readers clicking search and social media links.

Avid readers of the New York Times knew this day would come. The publisher has detailed its first mandatory digital subscriptions for voracious content consumers - available today in Canada and scheduled to roll out in the U.S. and globally on March 28.

As of those dates, visitors to the NYTimes.com website consuming more than 20 articles per month will be asked to pay for access. Subscription benefits are offered at several levels: $15 gets readers access to NYTimes.com plus a smartphone app; $20 gets access plus a tablet app; $35 provides full access to all digital platforms, including the site, smartphone app, and tablet app.

Like the Wall Street Journal before it, the New York Times has built some search and social permeability into its paywall plans. Readers arriving on article pages through links from search and social media will be given access even when they've surpassed their monthly reading limit.

The Times will impose a daily limit on search traffic from Google; users will be able to click through a maximum of five times a day. Bing and other engines meanwhile have no such restrictions. A spokesperson declined to comment on whether the Times has a specific arrangement with Bing.

"It’s an important step that we hope you will see as an investment in The Times, one that will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world and on any platform," Publisher Arthur Sulzberger said in a note on the site.

Other details of the Times paywall are as follows:

-Print subscribers retain full access to the site and all apps. E-reader editions for devices such as Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader are not free to print subscribers.

-Access to the homepage and site index pages will remain free, as will classifieds and blog "fronts," or main pages.

-Canadian users only have one subscription option today. Others will be made available with the global rollout later this month.

-New subscribers will not pay full price. Unspecified promotions will be offered, and college students, faculty and school administrators will enjoy discounts.

-Readers will be notified via pop-up alerts when they are approaching their monthly limits.

-A full rundown of the subscription plans and related questions are available in the Times FAQ.

The Times bought a Twitter Promoted Trend to publicize its subscription plans. The paid placement didn't appear to go live until mid-morning, when the publisher first revealed details of its paywall.

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