The New York Times has been looking for ways to build on the massive success of its three-year-old metered paywall as its growth slows. Details are now emerging on some of its plans.
Journalism.co.uk reports that NYT exec Denise Warren told a conference that the paper’s new mobile product will be called NYT Now and a subscription will cost $8 a month. The paper is also developing lower-priced subscriptions for opinion and food content.
Its full paywall package already costs $35 a month, but the Times is working on an even higher-end subscription service.
The NYT’s meter is already a $160 million-a-year business, but it has gotten big fast, and sequential (quarter-to-quarter) growth is slowing:
Here’s another way to look at that slow-down. This chart cuts out seasonality by showing the rolling annual change in NYT digital subscribers:
And here’s the percentage change in year-over-year digital subs. The dramatic difference in this chart and the one immediately above is due to the law of large numbers we’ve been talking about:
To be clear, these are subscription numbers, not revenue numbers and the revenue is what ultimately matters. We don’t have the ability to back into all those numbers yet, but we know that the NYT’s digital-sub revenue grew by 36 percent year over year in 2013, nearly twice as fast as the 19 percent growth in subscriptions. That means the paper is getting much more money from each average user.
Again, though, the simplest way to boost revenue would be to consistently raise prices for the main paywall by at least 2 percent to 3 percent a year. The Times should get on that right away.Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: digital subscriptions, future of news, NYT Now, paywall, The New York Times