Behind new paywall, New York Times sees significant decreases in visitors, page views

“The fallout from this paywall experiment has just begun,” Mike Schuster reports for Minyanville.

“Analysts upon analysts have voiced their grim forecast for how this will end and neither option looks very promising — either with the paywall folding or the paper itself,” Schuster reports. “Countless news organizations have experimented with a paywall — including the New York Times in 2007 — and there’s yet to be a success story. Even subscription costs far outweigh those of various memberships to Google, MobileMe, Dropbox, SiriusXM, Amazon, Netflix, and the Wall Street Journal.”

Schuster reports, “Hitwise analyzed the traffic to the New York Times website before and after the paywall went up on March 28. Already, it’s taken a hit. Aside from a spike on Saturday — which Hitwise suspects was due to the potential government shutdown — there has been a decrease in overall visits between 5% and 15%, or roughly six million visitors per month. Page views also saw a significant decline, falling between 11% and 30%.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “James W.” for the heads up.]

22 Comments

    1. It’s all about 2 words: Supply (i.e.: ‘content’) & Demand.

      NYT is not supplying consumers (sometimes referred to as, ‘the market’) with any compelling product (i.e.: ‘content’) that can’t be gotten anywhere else. Due to its own inability to adapt, NYT has consigned itself to irrelevance.

      It’s just a matter of time b4 they close the doors.

  1. For NYT, the only important thing is whether the amount of ad revenue they were receiving via freeloader eyeballs was greater than the amount of revenue received from the (significantly fewer) paying eyeballs. If it was, paywall isn’t worth it. If not, they’ll hold onto it and let the hits continue to drop.

  2. Paywalls can work, they just need to be simple and easy to understand. The NYT paywall is a mess that is difficult to understand and impossible to logically defend. Gruber said it best, check there if you’re a DF reader.

  3. um… How can Schuster assume an 11-30% dropoff in page views is a bad thing for the Times when he doesn’t look at new subscription revenue or how it compares to existing ad revenue? It’s like saying that it would be disastrous for Google to charge $20 for Android installs, because they might lose 11% market share. As every MDN reader knows, it doesn’t work like that.

    I for one pay happily for NYT; in general I like to see journalism supported more by wanting-to-learn-the-truth-ers and less by pay-to-transmit-their-point-of-view-ers.

  4. Let’s see. A 30% drop when it’s paid. How does the computation go? Let $x$ be the number of visitors.
       x times $0 = 0 without pay
       x times 85% $fee >> 0 with pay
    The question is does the loss in hits to generate ad revenue get offset by the subscription? It’s like the old market-share v revenue-share aimed at Apple. More info is needed before anyone can say anything intelligent. (But that won’t stop the diatribes from the clueless.)

  5. It’s a pretty porous paywall. Use Firefox and Private browsing and go right through. Use Safari, select the article you want, then use the Reader function to read the article. Instapaper also does the same thing.

    For this and other reasons, I think it is doomed. Casual browsers will just get the news elsewhere, others will go around it.

    I don’t want NYT to go away! But I don’t think this paywall is the answer.

    1. My solution after 20 free articles is to let the page load and then wait for the NYT subscription banner to load. Then I just edit the URL by removing everything after the question mark (?) and hit the ‘enter’ key.
      Original (Blocked): http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/education/12college.html?ref=us&gwh=3ADA7183F166191A89C2A4A3B31B078F

      Modified (Unblocked): http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/education/12college.html

      It works every time for me. That or you can always delete any cookies created by nytimes.com and then resume reading for free.

  6. It’s a tough one. I’ve read the NY Times for years, always starting with Op/Ed. The articles are often very thought-provoking, and the subsequent comments even more so. It’s a valuable experience.

    Poised against this is the nickel & dime accumulation of small charges that forever renew themselves. Each has to be managed if you’re to feel like a wise spender, and after you reach a dozen or so small cuts, you are reminded of the “death of a thousand cuts” analogy.

    I’d prefer one place you could put X$ on account, no more, and buy everything a la carte.

  7. Hey, did someone connect truth with newspapers?

    Media corporation rarely tell the truth and more likely to printer a point-of-view. So, why pay for a point of view and get it for free?

    Does each paper print what it demographic wants to here? Will CNN print conservative articles or will Fox print liberal articles. If this is a fact then the truth is not in the paper. Instead, the paper prints a view and from the sourced information creates a article that it reader will enjoy or be emotionally connected to.

    This fans, is the way corporations sell products to it market. These so called truth printers are in fact snake oil sales-man. They charge for advertisements and they need people to view the paper so they can make profit. Just as GE, GM, Heinz, dole and every other product manufactur. Their product is words. Their corporate revenue is selling other product and thus middle men.

    They are just upset that then people are understanding thisnnow and the Internet has bust their game up. Little ol’ me now can broadcast with even the mighty press.

    Sad day for the old school press!

    Now peddle that truth thing to your still ignorant mass that has yet to see an Internet page or blogs highlighting the errors made in the articles delivered.

    Sad day for the old school press!

  8. Decreased subscriptions was an expected outcome. The Times is interested in revenue, not raw subscription numbers. Why would they care if the new higher total revenue means fewer subscribers?

  9. I stopped my regular NYT visits now that the paywall is in effect.
    I’m sure investors Rupert Murdoch & Carlos Slim are angry about their investment, but, hey, it’s not as if they’re hurting for money (like us normal folk).

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