The New York Times plans to cut the number of free articles non-subscribers can access each month by half, from 20 presently to just 10. The change takes effect in April.
About a year ago, the newspaper site announced it would begin charging online readers for access to its stories and content accessed via NYTimes.com and its spread of tablet and smartphone apps. At the time, and since, the site offered 20 free articles per month, even to non-subscribers. Beginning next month, that goes down to 10 articles per month.
According to the Times, the change “strikes a better balance between visiting and subscribing”:
We think 10 articles a month, plus free access to our home page, strikes a better balance between visiting and subscribing. Most of our readers will continue to enjoy their Times experience without interruption. At the same time, the change provides us with an opportunity to convince another segment of our audience that what The Times has to offer is worth paying for.
(Interestingly, that 10 free limit is closer — and in some cases the same — as the number Gannett chose for its newspapers with paywalls, which it says will range from 5 to 15 stories monthly. The one Gannett paper I read with a paywall has a 10 article limit. So perhaps 10 is some sort of “sweet spot” between not enough and too much access.)
All articles, galleries, multimedia and blogs will count against non-subscriber limits. Workarounds, of course, exist to see the stories beyond that limit, but this will make those necessary far sooner in a month and perhaps convince more people to just pay for a subscription. Links from social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter, and search engines will count against the users limit, but apparently, once the limit has been reached for the month, users will still be able to read additional stories they come to from those search or social media methods. (Apparently, freebie search engine clicks will be limited to five daily.)
The Times is offering the first four weeks for 99 cents on any of its digital plans, and says its cheapest online plan is $15 regularly. Print subscribers will continue to receive unlimited access (and can share it with one relative in their household).
Those details and some other questions are available on the Times’ explainer page.