NYTimes.com, long a pioneer in online advertising, will move op-ed and news columnists, along with other premium content, behind a subscription wall in September. The move indicates that, despite the boom in online advertising, the company sees a need to diversify its revenue streams.
The new offering, called TimesSelect, will launch in September and be available for a $49.95 annual fee. New York Times home delivery subscribers automatically receive free access. Besides the op-ed and column content, subscribers will get admission to the online archives; exclusive access to multimedia features, including podcasts; and early peeks at articles in Real Estate, the New York Times Magazine, Travel and Sunday Arts.
“TimesSelect combines the insights and ideas of distinctive voices from the Times and [the International Herald Tribune] with seamless access to our archives in an unprecedented way and at a terrific price point,” said Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president of digital operations, in a statement. “At the same time, by keeping the majority of the site free, we will continue to scale the business through strong advertising growth.”
Since NYTimes.com launched in the mid-90s, the site has always been free to U.S. users who registered. Though it’s concentrated most extensively on generating advertising revenues — recently acquiring About.com in an effort to increase inventory — the company has long toyed with the prospect of charging a subscription fee. With the new configuration, NYTimes.com hopes to maintain the reach of a free site while also raking in subscription revenues. It will also have the opportunity to sell higher-CPM advertising to those eager to reach TimesSelect subscribers, who will presumably be a fairly well-to-do group.
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