The New York Times Discusses TimesLimited

Last week FishbowlNY told you about The New York Times preparing its group coupon service, TimesLimited, and yesterday – between forwards from our friends that based their entire comedic value on animals doing human things – we received an email that the service has officially launched.

Like you, we have some questions about TimesLimited, starting with: Why now? It seems a little late for the paper to be launching a group service, with sites like Groupon – and to a lesser extent, LivingSocial – already commanding much of the market.

Eileen Murphy, Vice President, Corporate Communications, for the Times, tells FishbowlNY that the paper feels quite differently. “We think the time is right for this.  We’ve had success with our existing email based advertising programs like Sophisticated Shopper and Great Getaways and think this endeavor is timed perfectly.  It’s a natural extension for the Times; we have the assets, the consumer reach and the relationships with advertisers”

Murphy says that the brand equity garnered from the paper will be enough to separate TimesLimited from the pack.

“TimesLimited will be a New York Times experience, with New York Times advertisers and New York Times customers.  Our offerings will be unique, high-end lifestyle, travel, food and live entertainment offers curated specifically for the Times audience.  They will be offered for a limited time, in limited quantities.”

Making it an exclusive product is a good strategy to gain interest, but Murphy also told us that it’s open to anyone who wants to sign up, which seems counterintuitive.

The success of TimesLimited remains to be seen, but Groupon – the lead dog in the group coupon service pack – doesn’t seem to mind. They told us that they don’t comment on “clones,” even it is from such a big brand as the Times.