The New York Times Company prepares for paywall launch

New York Times and Boston Globe publisher The New York Times Company is committed to search engines and maintaining a flexible subscription model on the launch of its paywall early next year, said president and CEO Janet Robinson.

In an interview with new media age, Robinson said allowing free access to a limited number of articles before being asked to pay, and letting casual users visit through search and social media channels will preserve both traffic and inventory.

She’s confident of maintaining readership, despite the reported audience decline of News International title The Times’ website since its paywall introduction this summer.

Robinson wouldn’t directly comment on what other publishers have done, but said, “We won’t be strict. We took our time to evaluate what we would and wouldn’t do. We really do feel that the metered model, the way we’ve structured it, will preserve our traffic and, therfore, a great deal of our ad inventory.

“We’ll keep the side doors open and third parties will be able to access our site. This is important,” she added. “We’re still taking advantage of the web ecosystem. People can enter through blogs, social media channels and third-party sites.”

NYTC will also bundle subscriptions, available to its UK audience, across print and mobile apps and devices, as well as perfecting billing systems and merging its home-delivery base with those readers already registered to maintain readership.

The advent of paid-for apps around news and information has helped pave the way for paid content online, said Robinson. Research carried out by NYTC in preparation for its paywall suggested US consumers are more willing to pay for news online.

“I don’t think everyone is willing to pay for content, and I don’t think all content is created equal,” she said. “But I think that when you’re offering a special experience and very high-quality content, people show a willingness pay. As long as you keep price points in line, the user experience fresh and vibrant, and the interface as seamless as possible, people will look favourably by paying an appropriate amount for content.”

Earlier this week, the NYTC announced it was working with The Washington Post and USA Today publisher Ganett to invest $12m in payment platform Ongo, rivalling News Corp’s paid-content platform Journalism Online. Ongo will aggregate content across the publishers’ titles so users can search and receive articles from all of them.

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