'N.Y. Times' Readers To Pay For More Online Articles

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The New York Times has laid out its new pay wall, which will require its more voracious readers to pay for online content. Ken Doctor, a media analyst who's worked in and covered the news industry for more than three decades, talks to Linda Wertheimer about what this means for consumers.


The New York Times has announced a new pay wall, which will require many readers to pay for visits to the newspaper's website. The Times has tried this before, but there's reason to believe this time, the pay wall will pay off, because reading the paper on iPads or Kindles or other tablets is a better experience.

To talk more about this, we called media analyst Ken Doctor.

Mr. KEN DOCTOR (Media Analyst): Publishers that I've talked to, that have had products out there for a year, news-reading products, are seeing that in their data. They're seeing that people are spending time. They are sitting back, and largely between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. at night. They're reading longer stories. There's spending more time per what we call session, each time they go onto the tablet. And now, if we can combine the pleasure of reading a newspaper or a magazine with the digital access and the ability to watch video or share that with a friend, we may have the best of both worlds.

WERTHEIMER: What do you think The New York Times really needs to happen with this?

Mr. DOCTOR: I'm looking at the one-percent rule. They have about 30 million people in the U.S. who visit their website,, every month. Now, only a small portion of those will ever pay - maybe no more than five percent. If they could get one percent, that would be 60, $70 million a year. That only gets them an increase of 10 percent compared to the circulation money they get from the newspaper today. But if they could get to that one-percent level, then that's a milestone, and they can build from there.

WERTHEIMER: Well, now, I guess other media have charged for online content for some time - music on iTunes, TV shows on Netflix. Do you think that consumers are just going to have to get used to paying for everything?

Mr. DOCTOR: I think that the free world is ending. It's receding, in a way, but it will never go away. In news, people still have a lot of free news and will have it from NPR, from the BBC, from other free outlets that will be there.

I think that the trade-off that we are seeing - and we're seeing it in movies. We're seeing Netflix, HBO. We're seeing paying the cable people. It's a trade-off of convenience for pay. Pay us once, we'll get it to you. And if you can fulfill that and they really want what you have, then I think a significant proportion of consumers are going to go for that deal.

WERTHEIMER: Well, let's turn this around for a second. You've made the point -which I think is a very interesting one - that these new devices have sort of paved the way for paying for content, because they are pleasant to use. But without good content, those products wouldn't be worth much. I mean, who needs them more? Apple need The New York Times more than The Times needs Apple?

Mr. DOCTOR: At this point, The Times needs the iPad. It needs the tablet more than Apple needs The New York Times. News reading is among the top three uses of the iPad. But Apple has many revenue sources, starting with hardware, software and music. The New York Times is trying to figure out a new business model. So for The Times and newspapers, this is perhaps their last chance to charge. And if they can get us to help pay the freight of paying for those expensive newsrooms, they're grabbing at the chance.

WERTHEIMER: Ken Doctor is the author of "Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get."

Ken Doctor, thank you.

Mr. DOCTOR: You're quite welcome. Good to talk to you.

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