The New York Times is considering new paid-for products as it heads into the third year of having a metered paywall.
Paul Smurl, vice-president of NYTimes.com paid products, told the Digital Media Europe conference taking place in London that one of the goals is to convert more of the 40 million global readers into paying subscribers by offering a new, cheaper product.
"One of the things we are interested in is an entry-level product," he explains in this video interview with Journalism.co.uk (see from 5m10s), "as we've only penetrated a portion of users".
He said a new product would stop short of offering full access to retain the value in existing subscription products, which range in price with full digital access costing $35 for four weeks.
Asked about a potential pricing point and how that might compare to, for example, a Netflix subscription, (which is £5.99 a month in the UK), he said the price could be "$10 or sub $10".
Last month we discussed with Smurl some of the lessons learned during the first two years of the New York Times paywall. Speaking to Journalism.co.uk at this week's conference he added: "we should have done it sooner".
"We were at a point, at least with the web product, where we had reached a steady state. We had grown to well over 30 million in the users in the US, well over 40 million globally, and it was time to start and monetise those."
The New York Times had around 640,000 digital-only subscribers in the last reported period at the end of last year, Smurl told the conference, plus more than 900,000 print subscribers who have connected their digital and print subscriptions. "So all told, we have well over 1.7 million digital paid relationships."
The site also has around 10 million registered users and has only experienced a 10 to 15 per cent decline in unique users in the US, and a 5 to 10 per cent dip globally since the launch of the wall. That is "well within our expectations", Smurl said.
"And mobile continues to grow to more than offset any decline in uniques and page views since we introduced the pay model."
The New York Times is now focusing on converting more of the many millions of readers into paying subscribers.
Smurl told the conference in his presentation yesterday that the team is now looking at launching new paid products and further tightening loopholes such as account sharing.
The news outlet is also continuing its focus as an 'e-tailer', offering gift subscriptions and other incentives.
In the conference session Smurl said that the New York Times owes the Financial Times "a depth of gratitude”, as it looked to its model and experience when setting up the subscription model. He said the Times is now looking towards Spotify and other businesses that they can learn from.
Asked at the conference about the site's "biggest mistake" on launching the wall, Smurl said that they had presumed readers would be able to follow online instructions and had therefore underestimated customer service customer service. "But people wanted to speak to someone on the phone," he said, explaining how the news outlet had 12,000 people a day calling at one stage.
Free daily newsletter
- How The Times attracts and retains digital subscribers
- Newsrooms that do not personalise content are missing out on 'vital' opportunities to grow
- Online news gradually shifts away from free content and towards pay models
- Newsrewired March 2019: seven main takeaways
- Three million US students get free subscription to NYT thanks to readers donations