The New York Times announced today that as of March 28, full access to the newspaper’s web site will no longer be free. This is not a surprise, but what is a shock is the price. The Times offers three prices: for web and tablet access, it’s $20 a month. For web and smartphone access, it’s $15 a month. But for access using all three platforms, it’s $35 a month. That’s $420 a year to read the New York Times on multiple devices, a price that approaches the cost of a print subscription. (Full 7-day home delivery in New York City costs about $608 a year.)
Current home delivery subscribers will get full, free access to the digital content. Interestingly, it seems that even those who only subscribe to the New York Times Book Review at a cost of $91 a year get that access, as do those who get full weekly, weekday or weekend subscriptions. (I know someone who subscribes to the Book Review alone, at $1.75 a week. When they the page about the free access to the new digital version for home delivery, the texts there seemed to indicate that their subscription would give them free access.)
I’m all in favor of paying for news. I think it’s important, and I think the “free” experiment we’ve been living with for years has greatly hurt the ability of newspapers to provide quality news. But even just for web and tablet ($260 a year) or web and smartphone ($195) access, I find these prices to be too high. I’d gladly pay, say, $100 a year to access the New York Times web site, but I can’t see committing to much more than that. Especially because even subscribers will still see ads! It’s also worth noting that even those subscribers paying $455 will have to pay more for crosswords, if they wish to have online access to them. And, one more thing, they really need to improve their crappy iPad app to give value to tablet subscriptions.
Granted, all users will be able to read 20 articles a month, and some trickery will allow them to read articles if the enter the site via links on other sites. But many users will simply go to other sites. This was bound to happen no matter what the cost, but this high pricing scheme will certainly turn off a great many readers (such as myself) who would be willing to pay for content on the site.
My guess is that this will be a resounding failure. The New York Times has already sent out e-mails to existing users saying, “As a loyal reader of NYTimes.com, you will receive a special offer to save on our new digital subscriptions,” and I think many people, with a “special offer” will try out the service. But I think the New York Times is pricing themselves out of the market.
Time will tell, but on March 28, I think the New York Times is in for a surprise.
Posted: 3/17/2011 by kirk | Filed under: Miscellanea Tags: newspapers | 4 Comments »
To much fanfare yesterday, The Daily was announced by Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp., together with Eddy Cue, Apple vice president of Internet services. This is the first iPad-only daily news organ, and it represents, apparently, some $30 million in investment.
The Daily states that it was “built from scratch for the iPad,” and it shows. It takes advantage of a number of iPad features, includes 360-degree photos, videos, and even games, to provide a truly unique form of information. At one point, a photo zooms out, at another point a tap on a photo plays a video report, and at yet another, a small box shows the latest tweets on a topic.
But for all these innovations, The Daily is a crappy newspaper with little real news. The first issue has a cover story about the demonstrations in Egypt, a story about the snowstorms in the US, and not much else in the way of news. Most of the rest of the paper is gossip, fashion pictures, horoscopes, an advice column, movie reviews and games. Okay, there are a couple of short editorials, but they’re stuck in between gossip and fashion, and don’t say much anyway. There’s a lot of attention to sports; notably to the Super Bowl, which, it so happens, is on News Corp.-owned Fox TV this coming Sunday.
The sports section is, in fact, the largest part of the first issue of The Daily, suggesting the type of audience the newspaper is targeting: those who don’t care about news. After all, one of the biggest stories of the year – the Egypt demonstrations, and the day that Hosni Mubarak announced that he would not seek reelection – gets a total of five pages, of which about one page is text. One other page talks about demonstrations in neighboring Arab countries. Then another page talks about Mubarak’s son and “trophy wife.” (That one is a three-page article with one page worth of text.)
Frankly, if you were to print all of this out, it would probably make a total of 6-8 pages of a New York Times-sized newspaper. Not much news for a buck.
So a lot of hoopla for news designed for people who don’t read news. The content of The Daily is roughly what you get in European cities for free: newspapers like 20 Minutes in France and other countries, distributed for free near subway stations and in city centers, offer more news than The Daily. They, too, contain very little serious news, and are designed, as the name suggests, to be read in 20 minutes. The Daily seems to be targeting people who think that Reader’s Digest is something worth reading. My guess is, though, that the people who spend what they do to buy an iPad are a bit more educated than those who would consider the content of The Daily to be worthwhile.
If you don’t have an iPad, you can see some screenshots of The Daily on the paper’s blog. This gives a good idea of the share of the paper that covers “real” news; as of this writing, only one of the screenshots shows a news story, while the rest cover the “meat” of the paper: ephemera.
But they got the interface right. I hope others will see what The Daily has been done and improve their own news apps. I would very much like to have a daily “paper” on my iPad, but it has to have real news, not this kind of crap.
Update: today’s second issue has a tad more news, but I counted 25 pages of sports, mostly about the Super Bowl (on Fox TV), and the gossip/fashion/lifestyle crap is nearly as much.
Posted: 2/3/2011 by kirk | Filed under: iPad Tags: iPad, newspapers | 5 Comments »
So I got my iPad today. I’m impressed. (See the post below.)
But one thing I want to do is use it to read the news. As I wrote a while ago on Macworld, I think there are great opportunities to get people to pay for content – news and other types of web information – using this device.
So I downloaded the New York Times’ “Editors’ Choice” app, and I’m very disappointed. First, by the ads; there aren’t too many, yet, because this is new. But I’m sure there will be more. Second, by the limited number of stories available. I don’t want to read web sites with the iPad, unless they’re optimized for the device; but dedicated apps make sense.
However, if you don’t provide more news and no ads – for a fee – this app is essentially worthless. I don’t only want to read the stories you include, I want to read a lot of your stories (such as book reviews, but also stories from the archives).
So, please improve this app, then come up with a fair price. I’ll sign up right away.
Posted: 4/8/2010 by kirk | Filed under: iPad, Miscellanea Tags: iPad, newspapers | 8 Comments »