The New York Times is to significantly cut free articles in a bid to bolster its subscriber numbers by reducing its monthly free roaming limit from 10 to just five before blocking further access in the hope that readers will spend.
The change, marking the first change to the Times paywall since 2012, will be enacted from Friday and come amidst a hectic news schedule dominated by exclusive stories connected to carious scandals within the Trump administration and Hollywood sexual harassment allegations.
This has seen record numbers take out subscriptions which jumped 60% in September versus a year earlier to reach 2.5m as readers clamoured to pay $15 per month to receive unlimited access to the Times website and news apps.
Meredith Kopit Levien, New York Times Co.’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, commented: “It’s a very hot news cycle. We think it’s as good conditions as any to demonstrate to people that high-quality journalism is something to be paid for.”
Volatile current affairs in the US has seen The Times add 154,000 digital-only subscriptions in the last quarter – although it is unclear how many of these did so purely on the basis of one-off introductory rates.
Like other publishers The Times has been grappling with steep declines in print ad sales, which fell 20% in the last quarter versus a year earlier, opening up a growing revenue hole which digital advertising cannot yet plug – despite growing by 11% over the same period.
In an effort to square the circle the New York Times opened a sales office in Singapore last month to boost Asian revenues.