The TimesSelect service costs $49.95 per year and provides access to opinion columns, archives and custom news tools. Half the new subscribers receive access as part of a print and online package, and more than 90 per cent signed up after a 14-day free trial.
In a statement released today, Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president of digital operations for the New York Times Company, said: "Clearly we've put together a product that appeals to a wide range of readers.
"The feedback from users has been very positive, particularly about interaction with columnists, usage of new tools and access to the Times's archives."
But speaking to Editor & Publisher shortly before the launch of TimesSelect, Mr Nisenholtz said that to succeed, subscription numbers would need to reach 'hundreds of thousands' in the first few years, and ultimately many more.
He said the initiative is critical to the survival of Times journalism because the website needs to be able to contribute a significant revenue stream to the company.
Most news and features on NYTimes.com remain free to access. Only a handful of newspapers have successfully introduced paid access for news content, most notably on specialist sites such as WSJ.com and for established columnists such as Robert Fisk at the Independent.
Online reaction to the paid service has been mixed.
A number of NYTimes columnists themselves said they were disappointed to see their web readership falling, particularly in countries where readers might not be able to afford the subscription, but also recognised that the site needed to generate income to help pay for their work.
Gawker published a twelve-step guide to 'coming to terms with TimesSelect' and an apparently inconsistent registration system, while the Black Table said: "The Old Gray Lady has become a money-grubbing harpy."
Some bloggers also claimed to have found a 'back door' to the op-ed section which allows users to bypass the payment system.
More news from journalism.co.uk:
New York Times fishes for more fees
New York Times digitises entire archive
Q&A: Martin Nisenholtz, New York Times Digital
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