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The real question (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#32963200)

The real question is how many of those remaining users are actual *new* subscribers and not just those who had already had print subscriptions even before the change. I suspect that number would make these stats even more dismal.

It seems to me like the Times would have been better off offering *premium* content to subscribers rather than closing off the entire site altogether. At a certain point, if you're not out there in the digital world, you risk utter irrelevance. You can have the best reporters in the world, but if they're speaking to an empty room, they might as well not exist.

Add to this the fact that they supposedly won't even allow their subscribers to cut/copy from stories or do searches, and it seems like a program almost designed to intentionally drive away interest. Even the subscribers are treated with open hostility.

Maybe Murdoch is adopting the Cartmanland [wikipedia.org] business plan (i.e., if you tell people they can't come, they'll line up in droves). But I don't think it works that way in real life.

Re:The real question (2, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 4 years ago | (#32963386)

I prefer the Economist myself, but the marketshare argument is old - many Japanese companies destroyed profit in pursuit of this elusive goal. But what good is it to chase readers who go so far as to block ads and don't think the content maker is entitled to anything?

Apple destroyed the notion that marketshare is end-all, be-all. It's only useful if you can leverage it somehow, but when you do, inevitably 50% of the rats escape the ship for the next thing.

Re:The real question (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963608)

Nobody's entitled to anything. You are supposed to come up with reasons that people will want to give you money so they can get something more valuable to them. That's how a business transaction works.

Re:The real question (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32964368)

Additionally, everyone should be surfing using an ad blocker simply due to recorded incidents of malware via ads. Noscript is good too.

Re:The real question (4, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#32964420)

Exactly, and if readers are going so far as to block ads, I would suggest looking at the reasons why they're blocking ads. It's generally not because they begrudge the site owner earning money, it's more often that the ads are damn annoying and a major distraction to the content. If you can make the ads less distracting, load in a timely fashion and not weigh in at several meg, you may find that's a more sustainable business model on the web than just sticking up a toll booth.

Re:The real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963400)

It seems to me like the Times would have been better off offering *premium* content to subscribers rather than closing off the entire site altogether.

But then they have to actually put some effort into their business model, instead of just saying "pay up, bitches!"

Re:The real question (4, Interesting)

Tangential (266113) | about 4 years ago | (#32963430)

It seems to me like the Times would have been better off offering *premium* content to subscribers rather than closing off the entire site altogether."

I'm pretty sure that this is the model that the NYT abandoned 6 or 7 years ago as basically not worth the trouble. I guess they decided that advertising was worth more to them at the time. They've been talking about bringing back a paywall lately. I wonder how this result will impact that decision.

They might find more revenue with premium content only available thru subscriptions using dedicated, well designed iPhone/iPad apps.

Re:The real question (2, Insightful)

GIL_Dude (850471) | about 4 years ago | (#32963842)

You know, the NYT seems to have some sort of a "sign up" wall days (free sign up). I have been using the News and Weather app that is standard on Android 2.1 to view news stories on my phone. Unfortunately, many of the stories lately seem to be NYT links. When you follow these, you get maybe a paragraph or two of article followed by a "sign up for free to see the rest of the article and all our other stuff". That's not quite as annoying as a pay wall, but it isn't something I am going to do. Creating an account and typing it into a phone is a bit too difficult to make it worth while to me. So now when I see an article that is on NYT I just look elsewhere.

Re:The real question (1)

rthille (8526) | about 4 years ago | (#32964528)

You might check out the top two results on this google search for 'nyt login'

http://tinyurl.com/38ynuf2 [tinyurl.com]

Re:The real question (1)

mitgib (1156957) | about 4 years ago | (#32964084)

They might find more revenue with premium content only available thru subscriptions using dedicated, well designed iPhone/iPad apps.

I don't know if you just really enjoy your Apple products or not. Personally if you are going to offer something with a lock to something else, I'm not going to be interested. Let me consume your offering how I choose, not how you dictate, and then if I find it useful/valuable I will be happy to subscribe. I feel putting worry about theft over concern for subscribers only reduces subscribers.

Re:The real question (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 4 years ago | (#32963448)

You can have the best reporters in the world, but if they're speaking to an empty room, they might as well not exist.

So, my understanding of this whole very interesting situation, is that journalism used to work by rewarding the journalists who went out and got a scoop, did investigative reporting or uncovered some huge scandal. That information was priceless and they would spend precious hours building up that report for an air date. Once their channel or printed paper ran that story, it would take a day or more for the rest to follow suit. Meanwhile you had a whole day of the public's attention on your channel/newspaper/magazine.

Enter the internet. For all intents and purposes of this discussion, she is the instantaneous transmission of such news stories. And duplication. How much time are you the center of attention when you break the story? A minute? Two minutes? You could have the best damned reporters in the world and some percentage of people will settle on reading a headline off of Slashdot or Google News that reads: "Murdoch Loses 90% of Readers with Times Paywall" instead of going to the source that called the Times and got that datum. And if I run a blog, all I need do is paraphrase everything in your article and suddenly I'm a contender for the endpoint of this information.

It seems to me like the Times would have been better off offering *premium* content to subscribers rather than closing off the entire site altogether.

What premium content do you have in mind? Do you think that doing even more exhaustive research on a story is going to change any of what I just explained? And what are you going to do when a blogger subscribes to your $5 per week premium content and then blogs about all of it at freetimes.blogspot.com? What then? Copyright lawsuits? Nobody cares. People say "offer premium content" with a wave of their hands. Well, what did you have in mind? I tried to discuss an alternative of this on Slashdot [slashdot.org] to no avail where basically there would be a pyramid of fractions of ad payments from those subscribed to your site cascading up to the original source.

Re:The real question (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#32963522)

Well, /. itself is a pretty good example of how this can work. The basics are available for free, but subscribers get nice perks. I'm more than happy to pay extra for those perks. But I never would have even considered subscribing if, on my first visit to the site, I had been greeted with a big wall that said "You can't see ANYTHING here until you pay us."

Re:The real question (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 4 years ago | (#32963580)

Well, /. itself is a pretty good example of how this can work. The basics are available for free, but subscribers get nice perks. I'm more than happy to pay extra for those perks.

What "premium content" does Slashdot offer us as subscribers, exactly? We get plums 20 minutes to an hour ahead of the rest of the people and we can get a set number of pages without ads.

Was this your answer to what 'premium' content The Times should offer its readers? I have read many of your posts and have a genuine interest in what you might have for ideas to this very broad and allegedly large problem online news sources are facing. And they cannot retreat back to their old ways because the internet is here and is here to stay.

But I never would have even considered subscribing if, on my first visit to the site, I had been greeted with a big wall that said "You can't see ANYTHING here until you pay us.

I'm not aware that this is the case. Do you see this when you visit The Times [thetimes.co.uk] ? I am able to read the front page. On other sites like WSJ, they give you a nice little summary and then ask you to pay to read the full on details. Is that the correct way to do premium content? I may sound like a smartass but this topic interests me as I support many local bands through premium content by buying additional artwork, LPs and various digital artifacts along with their albums if I enjoy them. How do I do the same for my favorite news sites?

Re:The real question (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 4 years ago | (#32963800)

What "premium content" does Slashdot offer us as subscribers, exactly? We get plums 20 minutes to an hour ahead of the rest of the people and we can get a set number of pages without ads.

There are other minor perks too (although now that my subscription "impressions" have been exhausted, oddly, I now have a "remove ads" checkbox on the front page??). When I subscribed for the past 4 years, it was for the extended comment history.

NB and OT: I decided not to resub after still never once getting mod points. 10+ years now, so I can only assume I'm blacklisted on the backend, so they don't need my money anymore.

Re:The real question (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32964032)

do you log in every day? people who log in each day don't get modpoints. when i logged in on monday after a weekend of not doing so, i always had modpoints waiting for me

Re:The real question (2, Informative)

TheJediGeek (903350) | about 4 years ago | (#32964648)

I log in every day. I also get mod points every 3 days like clock work. The big question is if you've ever meta moderated. That seems to be the big catalyst for mod points. Since I'm posting I guess I won't mod this thread.

Re:The real question (1)

LazyBoot (756150) | about 4 years ago | (#32964588)

although now that my subscription "impressions" have been exhausted, oddly, I now have a "remove ads" checkbox on the front page??

I belive that has to do with karma...

Re:The real question (4, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | about 4 years ago | (#32963718)

Yeah, except Slashdot works on a totally different economy of scale than a newsgathering organization.

How many traffic/camera helicopters does Slashdot have in the air? How many reporters do they hire in the Gulf of Mexico to cover the oil spill? None. They have volunteers submit "reprints" from other organizations who are themselves "reprinters" or in some cases the actual newsgathering organization. They have more volunteers who audit them, and more volunteers to run a vibrant discussion community.

The money gleaned from running Slashdot after paying for bandwidth and a little hookers and blow for the shareholders could never support even a handful of independent cub reporters, much less a decent newsgathering crew or a reprint subscription to Reuters.

Slashdot is actually a prime example of why the traditional print news media are having trouble. It costs a good deal of money to get good coverage of the news, and traditionally subscribers have paid for that. But now it's available everywhere, for free.

They'll dry up, and the only organizations left will be those that are big enough to use economies of scale in advertising to raise enough money. Which means the population of paid professional newsgatherers is going to plummet, replaced by reprints of the gist of Twitterstorms and the like.

May not be a complete disaster, but the Times (and the Gazette, and the Post) they are a'changin.

Re:The real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963950)

How is slashdot a good example? Slashdot does not deliver original news, maybe on rare occasions.

Re:The real question (5, Insightful)

sorak (246725) | about 4 years ago | (#32964056)

That may work for /., and I'm not saying the paid wall will work for anybody else, but the problem is that /. has a much lower overhead than traditional media, because they do not pay reporters to do investigative journalism. If every story linked on the site had to be written by a slashdot employee, then their accounting would look a little different. Then there's the fact that, when people think about news media, they seem to think only of the major players in large markets. Small towns, consisting of 100,000 people or less need news as well, but it is nearly impossible to support local reporters, editors, and managers when you're getting paid 2 dollars for every 1,000 banners delivered.

If we assumed 50,000 hits per day, that's $100 per day for every banner shown on a typical page. If we assumed three reporters and an editor, getting paid $30,000 per year, one IT guy and a manger, getting paid $40,000 per year, then the website would have to display six banners per page, and maintain a paper interesting enough to keep the 50,000 impressions per day they're currently getting. ($200,000 in salary, divided by 365 is $547 per day). This isn't taking into account other expenses, like paying rent, benefits,taxes, hardware costs, or anything else. The point is that the banner-driven business model is not going to work for small papers, unless some significant changes take place.

And that is why newspapers want to kill the internet and go back to the 80's/early 90's.

I don't know what the answer is, and I don't think paid walls are the answer either, but local newspapers will have to do something differently if they wish to survive. The problem is that the only people willing to pay for content are advertisers, and what that's just a pittance.

Re:The real question (1)

Zumbs (1241138) | about 4 years ago | (#32963624)

It seems to me like the Times would have been better off offering *premium* content to subscribers rather than closing off the entire site altogether.

What premium content do you have in mind? Do you think that doing even more exhaustive research on a story is going to change any of what I just explained? And what are you going to do when a blogger subscribes to your $5 per week premium content and then blogs about all of it at freetimes.blogspot.com? What then? Copyright lawsuits? Nobody cares. People say "offer premium content" with a wave of their hands. Well, what did you have in mind? I tried to discuss an alternative of this on Slashdot [slashdot.org] to no avail where basically there would be a pyramid of fractions of ad payments from those subscribed to your site cascading up to the original source.

I cannot speak for grandparent, but some options for premium content or pay advantages could be ad-free viewing, a convenient search function, access to older articles and/or larger background articles.

Re:The real question (2, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#32963762)

I cannot speak for grandparent, but some options for premium content or pay advantages could be ad-free viewing, a convenient search function, access to older articles and/or larger background articles.

Ability to bookmark and permanently save "favorite articles". Ability to "like" on facebook or whatever. Ability to comment blog, or even more valuable, filter comments to remove the idiots. Ability to suggest articles to friends / family. Ability to directly email the author, and possibly even get a response. Graphics displayed at 150 dpi instead of 50 dpi. Graphics displayed in full 24 bit color instead of monochrome. Ability to mod up and mod down articles (people will actually pay for the privilege of doing free quality control for you). Access to the purely "fun" non-news parts of the paper, like a really nice crossword puzzle interface or whatever it is people use dead tree newspapers for (I'm under 40, so I don't get newspapers and have no idea what to do with "yesterdays news, tomorrow"). All kinds of exciting ideas.

Or you could just block everyone, that being the express ticket to irrelevancy.

Re:The real question (2, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | about 4 years ago | (#32963674)

Gazeta Wyborcza [gazeta.pl] , about the biggest newspaper in Poland has an interesting approach: current online content is free, archive is paid. You can search it, get a short blurb of found articles but to access them in full, you have to purchase access to the archive, about $5/hour, or more expensive options like monthly etc.

Re:The real question (5, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | about 4 years ago | (#32964128)

This is an 'old' truth. What's the most perishable product the local supermarket sells?

Eggs? Nope.

Lettuce? Nu uh.

Milk? not even close.

Newspapers. They are delivered fresh every morning, and no matter how you store them, they are pretty much useless and unwanted by noon. Afternoon papers. were so perishable they woudl be delivered around 4pm and didn't even get past the dinner hour and useless. By 8pm no one wanted one. The stores made the publishers take them back the next day.

Unless you were moving and needed dishwrap, in which case you could usually buy the Sunday paper for half-price. Cheaper than actual wrapping paper.

They call it fish-wrap for a reason.

So the NYT is finding out not much has changed. The Internet has compressed the news cycle from about 4 hours (breakfast, paper, work, coffee pot, water cooler, lunch, on to the next story) to about 15 minutes (breakfast, email, Google, forwards to friends, blog, done). What we get now is the repetition of the current 's t o r y', and then on to the next one.

I recall knowing a lot of people in local television in the 80s. I spotted a reporterette out with her cameraman onw day downtown, and mentioned that I saw a competing station's crew down the street about 10 minutes ago. She panicked - "OH MY GOD, what did we miss?" Turns out a jewelry shop owner was running for mayor. She already did that story at city hall. But it was competitive. Guess where? The smallest market in the U.S. that had all 4 networks at the time. News has always been competitive. Now it's also more open. The big guys don't have the advantages. You don't need to buy ink by the barrel any more, just by the megabyte.

Re:The real question (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#32964378)

And what are you going to do when a blogger subscribes to your $5 per week premium content and then blogs about all of it at freetimes.blogspot.com? What then? Copyright lawsuits?

Only if the blogger cuts and pastes; if he rewrites it in his own words, it's his. You can't copyright information, only its expression.

The really cool part is.... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 4 years ago | (#32964412)

I could subscribe to The Times and set up a clone site in some remote country, copying and pasting their content verbatim alongside some adverts for viagara and porn.

How much traffic do you think I'd get? How much could I charge for advertising there? I bet it's happening/happened as I write this.

Re:The real question (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 4 years ago | (#32964742)

The internet still hasn't changed the scoop angle IMO. I watch plenty of news coverage as well as reading articles, and the original reporters still get a lot of props (along with their publisher). Pay attention to the talking heads on TV. Usually, the guy or girl who broke the story does a round of interviews like a celebrity pitching a movie. Case in point, Dana Priest did an investigation of the new intelligence lobby and the waste it's created (well waste for the government, and profit for a few) for the Washington Post.

Now, what I don't like are all the so called news blogs that call themselves the next generation of news. Really all they do is regurgitate the news of the day with their own spin on things. And, usually that spin distorts the truth of the story for their own ideological purposes. The NYT realized this and decided, hey we're not going to allow ourselves to be used as a free resource for other outlets to profit off of, when we're the ones taking the financial hit for funding these investigations and paying for our reporters and writers.

Re:The real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32964764)

Or just maybe, the newspaper business is at an end. The business model might not work anymore and Joe Blogger is the new journalist. Why people think a business has a right to exist forever is beyond me. It might be time for those real journalists to find other jobs!

Re:The real question (3, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 4 years ago | (#32963468)

Here, let me edit your words a bit;

Maybe Murdoch... would ... like the Times ... to ... not exist.

Sometimes some are too early (premium content) (3, Interesting)

beh (4759) | about 4 years ago | (#32963632)

Berner Zeitung (one of the two main papers in the Swiss capital) used this approach about 10 or so years ago, but (unfortunately, I thought) shut it down after a bit over a year.

What they did was to allow anyone free access to the full articles of the current day, but at the same time offer an online subscription for (IIRC) ~USD 40,-/yr. The online subscriber got some extra benefits in being able to access all full articles - not just the current day; and were able to download pdf page views of the actual papers as well, and give a search functionality for their news archive.

Overall at the time, I really liked the offering, and was saddened when they shut it down (not profitable)... I just think, they had been too early trying it. I think it could be a decent model for a lot of papers today...

Re:Sometimes some are too early (premium content) (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | about 4 years ago | (#32963890)

Access to a newspapers archives would be nice and worth paying for. Access to the days news, when it is available at 6 million other sites, give or take an order of magnitude, is not.

Re:The real question (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 4 years ago | (#32963786)

It seems to me like the Times would have been better off offering *premium* content to subscribers rather than closing off the entire site altogether.

The New York Times tried this for about a year. It didn't take.

Re:The real question (1)

goober (120298) | about 4 years ago | (#32963806)

What I'd like to know is how many of that 10% are paying to get the news content, or the crossword puzzle. Seriously.

Re:The real question (1)

samkass (174571) | about 4 years ago | (#32964768)

The real question is how many of those remaining users are actual *new* subscribers and not just those who had already had print subscriptions even before the change.

On the contrary, my first thought was how many of those 90% were just adblock freeloaders who were trying to get content without allowing the ads that pay for the content anyway? Losing them just means lower bandwidth bills and better profitability.

According to Private Eye (UK magazine) (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963238)

the voucher system for journalists to allow them access to the site did not work and they then had to set up paid for accounts. Depending on the numbers that would further distort the figures.

10% remains? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963256)

If 10% of the traffic remains even with the paywall, that's phenomenal success. On the other hand, most statistics are made up on the spot. 90% of all people know that.

Re:10% remains? (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#32963276)

Yeah, but that's only true 20% of the time.

Re:10% remains? (0, Redundant)

thijsh (910751) | about 4 years ago | (#32963528)

The 20% is only valid for the 50% of people who sleep 8 hours, for the 50% who need only 6 hours sleep it's closer to 25%, and for the 50% who never sleep it's 100%!!!

Re:10% remains? (1)

butterflysrage (1066514) | about 4 years ago | (#32963286)

but a 90% reduction in ad revenue is a right kick in the head.

Re:10% remains? (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#32963324)

You're not looking at it correctly. That's 90% of their online customers that are spared from Murdoch's incompetent propaganda. I'd say that's a net win, just not for him.

Re:10% remains? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963510)

I'm wondering if they're ever going to get around to fixing the problem where posts don't show up in ones profile page. Lately most of my posts haven't been showing up and it's most vexing.

Re:10% remains? (1)

Nick Fel (1320709) | about 4 years ago | (#32963442)

Sure, but their remaining 100,000 readers (as estimated by the article) are paying between £1 a a day and £2 a week...

Re:10% remains? (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 years ago | (#32963446)

That's what I was thinking too. The numbers we had when they announced it said that they needed to keep 1% of the readership for it to remain as profitable as before. Keeping 10% means they're making a lot more money than they were.

Re:10% remains? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963548)

The 10% figure is nothing more than a guess.

My sources say it's less than 1%.

Suckers (1)

lordmetroid (708723) | about 4 years ago | (#32963264)

I would wager that only people who think mainstream media delivers "news" would pay for their "news" but everyone but old people who can't understand what news is because the grew up in times when access to information was severly limited and the mainstream media was the source of news and it is still so their minds.

So the small part of old people that uses the internet for their reading of Times and are willing to pay for their "news" was 10% of Times total internet userbase.

Re:Suckers (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 4 years ago | (#32964118)

As opposed to the source of "news" being thousands of leech-sites and blogs which simply regurgitate information posted by the relatively small number of people doing research and writing news?

Let's not kid ourselves. The blogger who writes a rant based on the half an article he read on slashdot - which was in turn based on a blog paraphrasing of some Times article - is not a journalist; nor is he reporting news. Sure, there *are* some bloggers who do the research and digging -- but those are few and far between. Their voices are often lost among the noise, distorted by those who do nothing but echo that original content; or turned into "talking points" parroted without meaning.

Me, I have another spin on this. TFA conflates things by egregious mixing of stats, but the key info is this: between 20,000 and 300,000 people are paying for content who were not paying before. We don't have any real numbers (since the Times isn't giving them out), but even withint he speculative range above that's a lot of people. I suggest that they did not intend to capture much more than 10% -- that perhaps 10% even exceeds what they set as their target.

Those who don't want to pay call it a failure when they look at others who don't want to pay. Those running the business call it a success when they look at the revenue increase.

The risk with paying for news... (3, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 4 years ago | (#32963270)

... is that people will just say "screw that!" and go to another website where they can get it for free. World events aren't copyrighted to any one provider (for now, anyway...)

Re:The risk with paying for news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963422)

PepsiCola presents Mtn Dew Desert Storm III: IRAX STRIX BACK. Just like the first two wars in Iraq, just with more X's.

Re:The risk with paying for news... (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | about 4 years ago | (#32963798)

Yep, and even if all the current news providers went the same way, it would just clear the way for a new news provider to step in and claim the internet news market for themself. CNN came out of nowhere to a dominant position, and no doubt other news organization will appear in the future as opportunities arise. In the meantime the BBC and CNN are good enough... I already deleted my UK times bookmarks a few weeks ago.

Someone will make "free" (i.e advertisement based) internet news work, just as someone (Google) made "free" internet search work.

So, if Murdoch doesn't want to try to be the Google of online news, too bad for him. He's like king Canute or the RIAA trying to prevent the inevitable.

Re:The risk with paying for news... (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 4 years ago | (#32964302)

As long as a ring of websites try and work together to force the issue and all go to the paysite model, someone will still offer free news and people will go there. The day where no free news remain on the internet? Well, there's always network news at six and eleven, isn't there? There will always be a free options somewhere.

Figures are good for them (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | about 4 years ago | (#32963278)

£2 probably represents 2000 ad views. With their original viewing figures they would've had to have 200 ad views a week per user to make that kind of revenue which is a big ask.

So long as they can maintain or grow those subscriber numbers, this has actually been fairly successful.

Re:Figures are good for them (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#32963346)

You mean until the novelty wears off and people realize that they're getting screwed. The print customers with free access which is presumably the majority aren't actually paying anything for the privilege, so most likely it isn't going to fly. Especially when people start to figure out that they've been had.

Re:Figures are good for them (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 4 years ago | (#32964146)

You mean until the novelty wears off and people realize that they're getting screwed. The print customers with free access which is presumably the majority aren't actually paying anything for the privilege, so most likely it isn't going to fly. Especially when people start to figure out that they've been had.

Except they're paying for the print subscription...

Re:Figures are good for them (1)

Zumbs (1241138) | about 4 years ago | (#32963368)

By your math, if there are 10 ads per page, each user only has to watch 20 pages per week. On my preferred online newspaper, I view at least 5-10 pages per *day*, and sometimes more.

Re:Figures are good for them (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | about 4 years ago | (#32964316)

Without knowing their stats it's impossible to know how regular their visitors are. There will be a significant 'front page only' visitors, visitors coming for a single article and ones that only visit when incredibly bored.

There may be 10 ads but I'd imagine the revenue for them plummets once you look outside of a skyscraper and main banner.

Re:Figures are good for them (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 4 years ago | (#32964370)

Yes - people seem to be missing this point. The Times isn't doing this to win a popularity contest - it's doing it to increase revenue. And by most estimates, the revenue from subscriptions to this content will be more than ad revenue -- likely they still have ads in place as well? If not, they should - that would let them give two tiers of subscription. Basic and "ad-free". As long as they integrate the ads into the actual content (and don't use third party services) they're not trivial to block.

Anyway - I really hope to see more services go this route. People tend to think that the problem with ads is that they're intrusive/annoying etc; and overlook the fact that the reason there's so much money in ads is because ad middlemen are not buying just that brief span of attention you give them -- they're also buying all of your surfing habits, as aggregated across any site using their advertising services.

The business of selling my viewing habits to the highest bidder is growing old, and I will happily pay some small amount of money every week or month to not have to worry about it.* Because when you take out advertising as a means of revenue generation, you have to sell something. And I'm not going to be convinced that choosing to selling your service is a bad thing... because if you're good at providing it, people will pay for it. You won't have the numbers you saw when it was "free"; but you don't need those numbers to make a profit.

(* Except slashdot, who graciously gives me an ad-free experience - and thus surely does not mind that I block the tracking too ;)

Give it time (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | about 4 years ago | (#32963348)

Eventually the suckers, I mean, users will come around.

However, some have registered: Dan Sabbagh, formerly the media correspondent for the Times, suggests that about 150,000 users registered for access to the Times and Sunday Times while they were free, with 15,000 apparently agreeing to pay money.

This is very sad to see. It will only encourage others.

Re:Give it time (2, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#32963454)

However, some have registered: Dan Sabbagh, formerly the media correspondent for the Times, suggests that about 150,000 users registered for access to the Times and Sunday Times while they were free, with 15,000 apparently agreeing to pay money.

This is very sad to see. It will only encourage others.

You sure? 90% drop in readership would imply the remaining 10% was that "150,000 users". That meaning their competitors just gained 1,350,000 readers, I'm sure they're strongly encouraging all their competitors to install paywalls.

When the local 70s rock station changed to continuous Kenny-G saxophone, and 90% of their listeners left, every other radio station in the state did not see that 90% decline and immediately decide to also switch to 24x7 Kenny-G saxophone.

Re:Give it time (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | about 4 years ago | (#32963828)

That meaning their competitors just gained 1,350,000 readers...

If they are like Murdoch, they would rather have the money. A reduction in readership is also a reduction in bandwidth costs. After all the math is worked out, the bottom line is the only thing that matters. Right now it's too early to tell. I fully expect that the Americans are more likely to fall in line than the Europeans, as indicated by the fact that Americans already put up with comparatively lousy internet and cell phone service.

Re:Give it time (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 4 years ago | (#32964854)

However, some have registered: Dan Sabbagh, formerly the media correspondent for the Times, suggests that about 150,000 users registered for access to the Times and Sunday Times while they were free, with 15,000 apparently agreeing to pay money.

You sure? 90% drop in readership would imply the remaining 10% was that "150,000 users". That meaning their competitors just gained 1,350,000 readers, I'm sure they're strongly encouraging all their competitors to install paywalls.

What? Did you actually read the post you replied to? Even the part you quoted?

They started with 150,000 readers and lost 135,000 (90%), leaving 15,000 readers (10%).

At no point does the part you quoted imply in any way that 150,000 users is the 10%. In fact, it outright states that 150,000 were the number of people who registered accounts when they were free .

Re:Give it time (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 4 years ago | (#32964406)

Eventually the suckers, I mean, users will come around.

However, some have registered: Dan Sabbagh, formerly the media correspondent for the Times, suggests that about 150,000 users registered for access to the Times and Sunday Times while they were free, with 15,000 apparently agreeing to pay money.

This is very sad to see. It will only encourage others.

This is very good to see, as it will encourage others to build business models that aren't based on third-party brokering my attention and viewing habits.

BANG, BANG, both feet. (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 4 years ago | (#32963362)

Because if you're a publicist, why would you offer The Times content in return for publicity that nobody will see? If you're a columnist, how does it help your career to write articles that nobody reads, or can link to?

By reducing the number of readers, they're not just cutting off advertising revenue, they're also making it more expensive to obtain content.

Clearing out the riff-raff (5, Interesting)

smeette (1095117) | about 4 years ago | (#32963926)

Actually, the Times can make this a great success. They've just filtered out all the freeloaders and now have a nice exclusive club of readers willing to pay for something on the Internet. I would say that's far, far more valuable than all the riff-raff that want something for free. They'll be charging top-dollar for advertising/features now, and not have any problems filling those side columns.

It's like parking (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963372)

If every single store in your city offers free parking, and you decide to charge for it, and you find you still have 1 in 10 customers willing to shop there, are you doing well when you're too lazy to check the parking lot for cars?

Once the Times does that, they'll find that 10% is mooching parking from elsewhere or taking the bus. And, no surprise, the other store owners are even more solidified that they keep their free parking (by towing away your customers).

Now you could get away with charging for parking if everyone else is doing it, but lets face it, we're not running out of internet, so that won't happen.

Re:It's like parking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963496)

I don't think a car analogy works here.

Re:It's like parking (1)

theskipper (461997) | about 4 years ago | (#32963618)

Agreed, maybe a newspaper+internet analogy would work better.

Re:It's like parking (2)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#32963896)

Amusingly, you've described the fifty year old "shopping downtown vs shopping in the suburbs" problem and believe it or not, people still claim to "not understand" why retail is dying downtown, and will come up with all kinds of insane justifications to avoid thinking about that simple fact. Maybe the problem is lack of scrapbooking and candle stores? Or we need wider sidewalks? No, it must be the use of plastic bags instead of requiring only "green" paper bags. Anything to avoid thinking about reality.

Since that insane dance of justification to avoid reality has been going on for about half a century in the USA, I would expect that the same class of fools will be promoting internet paywalls half a century from now.

Re:It's like parking (1)

brit74 (831798) | about 4 years ago | (#32964436)

I don't think that analogy works. For one thing, what the store owner wants is sales in his store. By charging for parking, he's driving away store customers. In the NYT example, it's entirely possible to make more money from 10% of the readers than from keeping all the readers and getting ad-revenue. For example, if you make 1 cent per reader on an ad-based revenue model, and 20 cents per reader on a paywall model, then moving 10% of your readers to paywall and losing the other 90% will still give you twice as much money. It all depends on the numbers, and your analogy is flawed.

Re:It's like parking (1)

brit74 (831798) | about 4 years ago | (#32964462)

I meant Times Online, sorry.

Declining fast, apparently... (3, Informative)

Nick Fel (1320709) | about 4 years ago | (#32963378)

Because two days earlier, the very same newspaper reported they'd only lost 66% of their readership [guardian.co.uk] .

Re:Declining fast, apparently... (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | about 4 years ago | (#32964268)

The Guardian have been mocking the Times/Murdoch over his business practices. A bit rich coming from a media company that lost something like £230 million last year...

The Grauniad does provide a nice contrast to the right wing tabloids but they're not above printing questionable articles to push an agenda.

BBC is still my top news site, only major news outlet I know of with a strong mandate designed to minimise bias.

Paywall (2, Funny)

somaTh (1154199) | about 4 years ago | (#32963424)

I tried reading the article from the NY Times itself, but it's behind a paywall.

Re:Paywall (4, Informative)

smallfries (601545) | about 4 years ago | (#32963642)

Err.... WTF?

What kind of crack are you smoking? This story is not about the NYT, and the NYT does not have a paywall (registration is free). Did you think that you could make some kind of point by cobbling together words that you felt were related to the story?

Re:Paywall (3, Informative)

jmichaelg (148257) | about 4 years ago | (#32963776)

He's smoking some ambiguity crack. That's the kind that lets you make a joke based on an ambiguity that leaves open an alternative interpretation to a discussion. For example... [youtube.com]

Re:Paywall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963850)

I meant to just say the times. I also meant to put a :/ at the end, but I was in too big of a rush to beat someone to the joke.

Firsth posT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963574)

Name on the 6ar of BSD's codebase reasons why anyone

Broken record (3, Interesting)

sircastor (1051070) | about 4 years ago | (#32963594)

Yup: Paywall bad idea. They will reap the consequences, blah blah blah.

The hardest thing they're going to have to learn to grasp in new media economics is that it's not just their business model that's changing. It's not just that they're going to have to stop expecting people to pay for their services like they did before. Their entire industry is going through a massive shift. Personally, the only way I see newspapers surviving is that they become tremendously small outfits. 10-man operations that produce solely for the web and offer a print-on-demand version for those who are interested. Your staff of a dozen reporters and the hundred people who support them aren't going to last here. Print journalism as an industry just can't support those people the way it used to.

Is journalism dead? No. But I think massive news companies are. Journalists and the "Ace Reporter" are going to become free agents. Newspapers are going to become aggregators of the information they collect, and they'll likely have to secure a story with a fee or a retainer. I have sympathy for the people whose jobs are disappearing, but I think every time a job disappears, a new industry grows and more jobs are created.

In a semi-related note, I think that DC should do a Superman storyline where Clark gets laid-off because the Planet can't support his job anymore.

Who's going to pay for investigative journalism? (1)

opus_magnum (1688810) | about 4 years ago | (#32964174)

You know, following a case for months, bribing your way into certain "circles", and so on. Otherwise newspapers will become mere newswire and blogger aggregators.

Re:Who's going to pay for investigative journalism (2, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 years ago | (#32964572)

You know, following a case for months, bribing your way into certain "circles", and so on.

I believe you'll find that most newspapers stopped doing that years ago.

Otherwise newspapers will become mere newswire and blogger aggregators.

I don't know which newspapers you read, but that's precisely what most of them seem to be these days... which is why there's no point in paying for them when you can just read press releases directly rather than wait for some journo to rewrite them in the house style.

Re:Broken record (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 years ago | (#32964870)

In a semi-related note, I think that DC should do a Superman storyline where Clark gets laid-off because the Planet can't support his job anymore.

I doubt Clark would really be all that bothered. He's been a published author for a long time now - he makes more money from his books than he does at the Planet....

Self-adblock (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963634)

Imagine how the advertisers feel. It's like 90% of the former Times web readership installed adblock overnight.

the newspapers screwed up their business models (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 4 years ago | (#32963648)

used to be that they owned the classifieds. if you wanted to sell something you would advertise in a newspaper. then ebay, google, craigslist and others took the market and the newspapers didn't do anything about it. i know someone who advertised a condo for sale in the NY Times last year and i thought it was a joke and a waste of money. so 1990's. these days you do craiglist and sell it yourself or go to a realtor. even the realtors don't advertise anything in the newspapers. the same ad every weekend just to get customers in. the lead time is so long that it's a waste of time trying to advertise new properties in the newspaper.

if the newspapers want revenue they need to start an open source type for sale/job listing site and share the revenue. but it's too late

Re:the newspapers screwed up their business models (1)

brit74 (831798) | about 4 years ago | (#32964580)

I'm not sure how your solution solves anything. People are going to sell through the newspaper even though craigslist is free? And they'll do that because of "revenue sharing"? Sharing of what revenue? When someone sells through craigslist, they keep 100% of the revenue. I guess I disagree with your analysis that "the newspapers screwed up their business models", and think it's more a matter of getting hit by the "everything is free on the internet, jump in and give it away for free (destroying your own revenue) or let someone else do it for free (craigslist) and watch your revenue get destroyed." Damned if they do. Damned if they don't.

I tried to..... (5, Interesting)

moodel (614846) | about 4 years ago | (#32963680)

....... login thinking that since I already payed for a sub on my Kindle that I might at least be given access to the website. To my horror I found out that they wanted me to pay a new sub :/ I tried to submit a question asking if I might get some money off the subscription as I already received The Times on my Kindle but guess what? The question submission form on their website doesn't work! Awesome \o/ I'll stick to the Guardian. I've also canceled my Kindle sub.

These aren't reliable numbers (3, Insightful)

jfoobaz (1844794) | about 4 years ago | (#32963682)

This is based on an estimate by the Guardian, without any data provided by the Times to back it up. It could well be true, but it's basically wild speculation without actual numbers to back it up.

The relevant bit of information... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963694)

is how much revenue a subscriber generates compared to a visitor that generates only ad revenue. It could well be that this is a more profitable model than open access even with a giant drop in readership.

NYT is fine (0, Redundant)

baconjews (1859636) | about 4 years ago | (#32963698)

What are you talking about? The New York Times is still unblocked.

Only 90% (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 4 years ago | (#32963708)

It really surprises me that 10% of people still read it. I have accidentally followed news feeds to the firewall half a dozen times, I would have thought that only 1 or 2% would have gone on to pay to see the page.

Re:Only 90% (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963904)

Subscribers to the print version can access the website at no additional charge; the article states that only about 1% are actually paying for the internet version (or about 15,000 people!).

(Hilariously, subscribers to the Kindle version cannot.)

Slashdot readers are missing the point! (5, Interesting)

dawilcox (1409483) | about 4 years ago | (#32963794)

This comment (and most comments posted here) seem to fail to address the real purpose of the Times.

The Times understand that they are undergoing an initial loss to set a new standard in online news. They hope that other news sites will follow suit. If and after they do, you will not be able to get the story on any other web site. Subsequently, subscribers should increase and revenue should increase.

So, it's not surprising that they're not making a profit on this switch, because frankly, they're probably not trying to.

Re:Slashdot readers are missing the point! (2, Insightful)

nyctopterus (717502) | about 4 years ago | (#32964048)

This seems like the plan, but I don't see how it could possibly work. As more papers go behind paywalls, the remaining free ones will see climbing readership, and due to the economies of scale with online publishing, will start to make real money. Why go behind a paywall then? This is exactly what is happening in the online Times vs. Guardian battle right now. With 30% of the online news market, you might break even, with close to 100%, you'll make a killing.

There will always be free online news, because there is money to be made there, especially if the paywall space is crowded.

Re:Slashdot readers are missing the point! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32964598)

I suppose they imagine it will work rather like Sky subscriptions. Nobody needs Sky TV, and its value is questionable to say the least, but many people pay for it anyway. For them, it is worth it. For the rest of us... who cares? A fool and his money are soon parted.

Re:Slashdot readers are missing the point! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32964112)

This is true. They actually projected a 90% loss and so if this figure is correct it's no surprise and The Times paywall is working as the owners expected, and not much of a headline either. The 66% figure is probably connected to the trial offer of 30 days trial access (I think it was at no charge).

So what is the purpose of the paywall? Obviously News International prefer to have a small number of paying customers than a huge number who pay nothing. It will almost certainly raise the quality of the online comments (real names, people who care enough to pay) which in turn may build one of the few worthwhile community forums around a news site. Most are populated by anonymous bores exchanging tiresome platitudes and cliches. If The Times can build a public community that is stimulating, reasonably well mannered and constructive, with a genuine interaction between the journalists and their readers, then they will be adding real value to the product and going a long way towards justifying the fee.

The other highly relevant issue is the printed edition. The Times isn't just another rag, it has a reputation and status acquired over hundreds of years, not a decade. People do want to read it, and if the avenue of a free online edition is no longer available then many people may well return to buying a printed edition, if not daily then at least regularly. If the printed edition can remain viable while competitors struggle and fail then I'd count that as a real achievement.

Re:Slashdot readers are missing the point! (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 years ago | (#32964488)

It will almost certainly raise the quality of the online comments (real names, people who care enough to pay) which in turn may build one of the few worthwhile community forums around a news site.

But no-one will ever know about it unless they pay to view the site. And that's even less likely now that no-one links to the Times anymore.

And yes, the Times is 'just a rag' these days; Murdoch has pretty much destroyed the repuation that was built up 'over hundreds of years'.

lazy and greedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32963814)

Their stockholders, management, and reporters had been riding the gravy train far too long. They published trash and expected big money for it. Newsflash (hehe), you can't charge 2010 prices for poorer quality early 1900's media. Back in the late 1800 and early 1900s, newspapers were a 1-2 person effort and barely scraped by. Mega-urban newspapers had their boom-time later and made some obscene profits.

So sad for you paper media, but those days are OVER. Your profit margin is evaporating. Tighten-up, change, or die. The sad truth is that newspapers haven't been providing any added value for quite some time. The information available in them is available elsewhere free. Newsflash (again, hehe), NO ONE IS GOING TO PAY YOU IF YOU DO NOT ADD ANY ACTUAL VALUE. They certainly aren't going to pay the ridiculously huge sums you desire.

"It's only $X amount of money for a person." Once again, how much you want for your product or how small you feel the amount is, is irrelevant. The relevant figure for you, Mr. Newspaperman, is how much the average reader is WILLING to pay for the value you are going to add. Better figure that out fast. Are there NO competent freaking business people left in the world?

Success for "News Limited" (2, Insightful)

Thorfinn.au (1140205) | about 4 years ago | (#32963894)

Those figures look like this is going to be a successful strategy for the company. Other "apocryphal" sources would have suggested that 95% loss would have been expected.

"Which Times"?!? (2, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | about 4 years ago | (#32964038)

"WhichTimes"? This article is really tagged "WhichTimes"? It's the real and proper Times, damnit. The one that's called "The Times" (unless it is a Sunday, at which point it is called "The Sunday Times").

On a more serious note, it's good to see that they're getting large amounts of people abandonning ship for other places, but 10% subscription rate still seems worryingly good and enough for them to keep it there.

Re:"Which Times"?!? (1)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | about 4 years ago | (#32964672)

"WhichTimes"? This article is really tagged "WhichTimes"? It's the real and proper Times, damnit. The one that's called "The Times" (unless it is a Sunday, at which point it is called "The Sunday Times").

You mean, it's the one that's so out of touch with reality that it doesn't recognize that, in the last 220 years, some real and legitimate competition has arisen? No wonder they're having trouble adjusting to the 12st century

Luckily, if things keep going the way they are, there will only be one Times again. Though probably not that one.

*Looks* like a success, actually (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32964300)

On the face of it, this actually looks like a success -- if you believe that they actually retained an amazing 10% (about which I'm skeptical) and if they can sustain that rate (i.e. people don't tire of paying after a month or two).

Ads don't pay much. When I get an IO for an ad that pays a penny per impression ($10 CPM), I am very happy. If there are n people paying 2 pounds (I'll call that $3) per week, then to match that, the free-access-but-ads model with 10*n people would need to generate $0.30 per week per user from ads. You would have to be pretty lucky to get advertisers to pay that much.

Free online NYT access led me to subscribe (3, Interesting)

Faizdog (243703) | about 4 years ago | (#32964348)

I'm probably a minority dwarfed by free-loading readers, but free online NYT access led me to buy a full 7-day a week subscription to the paper.

I used to (and still do) go to Google News for my daily news digest (one of many sources I'd visit). Over time, I noticed that many of the stories I was interested were from either the NY Times or the LA Times. Furthermore, I noticed that for stories I'd read on many sites linked to from Google News, the NY Times (and LA Times) versions were regularly better written and more informative in my opinion.

Due to this (and the fact that I live in the suburbs of NYC) I started to regularly read the full paper online on the NYT website. After a few months of this, I decided that I found this quality reporting valuable, and worth supporting. Furthermore, I relocated a little further away from the city and was now commuting by train instead of by car. So I then decided to by a subscription. Now I have the paper delivered every day, and they have me as a full, loyal subscriber. All because of the free online access they provided.

But for everyone of me, there are probably a lot of free-loaders.

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