‘NYT’ Ends Pay Policy on Web Site

NEW YORK The Web site of The New York Times is ending its practice of walling off part of its offerings in a pay channel, TimesSelect.

The shift to fully free will become effective at midnight Tuesday. The Times online archives will also be free.

An article posted on the site said this is “reflecting a growing view in the industry that subscription fees cannot outweigh the potential ad revenue from increased traffic on a free site.”

Questioned recently about this, a Times representative told E&P’s Joe Strupp only that the company was always looking for ways to improve its site and its traffic.

The article relates: “The move comes two years to the day after the Times began the subscription program, TimesSelect, which has charged $49.95 a year, or $7.95 a month, for online access to its columnists’ work and to the newspaper’s archives. TimesSelect has been free to print subscribers to the Times, and to some students and educators…

“The newspaper said the TimesSelect project had met expectations, drawing 227,000 paying subscribers—out of 787,000 over all—and generating about $10 million a year in revenue. ‘But our projections for growth on that paid subscriber base were low, compared to the growth of online advertising,’ said Vivian L. Schiller, senior vice president and general manager of the site, NYTimes.com.

“When the project was being designed, ‘it was a time when it was all about people coming to our brand because they’re typing in NYTimes.com,’ she said. ‘What wasn’t anticipated was the explosion in how much of our traffic would be generated by Google, by Yahoo! and some others.'”

Speculation has held that such a move might have been sparked by Rupert Murdoch musing that he might make the The Wall Street Journal site free.