Will the New York Times paywall affect the power of their reviews?

We all knew it was coming.

The parent company of the NY Times has been bleeding money for years.  Putting the online version of the paper behind a paywall was inevitable.

And now it’s a reality.

I received an email from Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the Publisher of The New York Times, last Friday, informing me that the Times was introducing the “digital subscription” which would limit the access to articles on NYTimes.com if you were not a hard paper subscriber.

However, The Times is no dummy, and at first glance it seems they have chosen to adopt a more liberal policy for the casual reader then some of the other Paywalls out there (poor Linda Weiner at Newsday – I love her stuff – but haven’t read it since she got tossed behind the Wall).

Here are some of the highlights of The Times new accessibility policies:

  • You can read 20 articles a month at no charge.
  • On smartphones and ipads apps, you can only read Top News.  Everything else is behind the wall.
  • Readers who click a link on a blog or other site that directs to a Times article will have access to that article, even if they are already at their 20 article/month cap.

So the big question is . . . if you’re a NYTimes.com reader but not a subscriber to the paper, will the above change your reading habits?  Will you pay if you read more than 20/month?

And what does all of this mean for theater features and reviews?

Everyone who studies consumer behavior knows that the moment you add a price tag to something, you’re going to lose people, no matter how minor the increase.

Even if you went from free to $1, the quantity of your customers is going to drop.

That has to mean less of a reach, right?

So many questions . . .which means it must be time for a poll!!!

Click below to answer a 3 question survey about whether or not you’ll read a review behind a paywall.

Results will be published a week from today!

Click here to take the survey!

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Comments
  • Jay says:

    Wait, so…
    “Readers who click a link on a blog or other site that directs to a Times article will have access to that article, even if they are already at their 20 article/month cap.”
    Does that mean a blogger, such as yourself (or perhaps the good folks over at BroadwayStars.com), could pay the $20/month, post every theatre related or business story related to the theatre that the NYTimes writes and his readers could access the articles for free even if there are more than 20 articles you link to?
    Or am I reading that wrong?

  • Kevin Lambert says:

    Ken, your survey only had one page and I’m wondering if you meant “WILL” you pay instead of “DO” you pay? Because I subscribe to the print version of the NYTIMES and thus do not have the problem non-print subscribers will have. All content is available to me online. However, the survey indicated 1/3 pages and after clicking next the survey was over on page 2.
    Just curious.
    But, I will always subscribe to the print version of the NY TIMES. Call me an old fuddy duddy but I want to see the stuff I may not WANT to see rather than selecting only the news I think I may want to know. I think that is what keeps me informed. Happening across things by skimming pages teaches me many things. If I only seek out information about things I already think I know, well, what good does that do me in the long run?

  • Allison says:

    Hi, Ken. I took your survey, but wished there was an option for me to explain my choices. So…
    I have been an avid reader of the online Times for about 4 years now… always wondering why people were buying the paper Times, when they could read it online for free. (saves trees, saves my money) So, when I received their e-mail last week that said I would need to pay to have complete access, my first thought was: “Oh- they caught me!” My second thought: “Well, it’s about time I pay for their services…” I seriously considered subscribing to the online NY Times, but have decided not to do so for the following reasons:
    (1) After receiving their e-mail, I tried an experiment. I went three days in a row without even opening my NY Times daily e-mail. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of time I had that morning to do my writing! (Sometimes, too much of a good thing can be bad.)
    (2) When I wanted to catch up on theatre news, I went to Broadwaystars.com. This website always has links to any new NY Times theatre articles/reviews… for free. (I have to admit, I prefer free.)
    (3) It is another place for me to send my credit card information. Call me old fashion. Call me paranoid. But, most important, call me a wife of an IT Security Officer.

  • Sandy Frederick says:

    I think Queen would be an excellent choice for a jukebox musical. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is so theatrical, and “Somebody to love” is dramatic. I think Freddy Mercury was a musical theatre star waiting to happen.

  • Sandra Frederick says:

    Hi Ken,
    I thought I was on the other page when I responded about Queen. The NY Times sent me an email saying that I would have to begin paying to read online. I have never been an online news reader on a daily basis. I prefer paying for the hard copy that gives me full access to everything, you never know what you will find interesting.

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

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