The New York Times will begin to charge people to access some of its digital content as it makes another stab at getting readers to pay for digital news.
New York Times Co's namesake newspaper said on Thursday it will begin charging readers in Canada to access some of its content and will roll out a similar model in the United States and globally on March 28.
Subscribers to the print edition will be able to have full access for free. Those who do not have home delivery of the print edition will be able to access 20 articles for free each month before having to pay to read more.
The New York Times is charging $15 per month for unlimited access to NYTimes.com and a smartphone application; $20 per month for online access and an Apple Inc iPad app; or $35 per month for online, smartphone and an iPad app.
The New York Times said it will begin using Apple's new subscription service in its app store by June 30.
"Today marks a significant transition for The Times, an important day in our 159-year history of evolution and reinvention," New York Times Chairman and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said in a statement.
"Our decision to begin charging for digital access will result in another source of revenue, strengthening our ability to continue to invest in the journalism and digital innovation on which our readers have come to depend."
The move marks the second go-around for one of the world's most prestigious papers to diversify its revenue stream in the face of declining advertising sales and a drop-off in print readership.
The newspaper attempted to get readers to pay in 2005 when it charged non-print subscribers for online access to columnists such as Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd and Thomas Friedman. The New York Times iced the concept. known as TimesSelect, after two years in order to attract more readers to the site.
Yet in January 2010 the New York Times announced it would try again and roll out a metered pay system inspired by sites as varied as those of Pearson Plc's Financial Times to Consumer Reports to WeightWatchers.
The model allows causal readers to access the New York Times, unlike some other pay strategies employed by other news organizations, such as News Corp's experiment with the Times of London. The British paper bars anyone who does not pay from reading its website, an action that has resulted in a 90 percent plunge in visitors.
FT.com, the online version of the Financial Times, has roughly 207,000 paid subscription out of roughly 3 million registered users, Rob Grimshaw, managing director of FT.com, said at a recent industry conference in New York.
About 31.4 million individuals in February visited NYTimes.com, according to online research measurement firm comScore.
"Publishers have a good opportunity to get about 10% of unique visitors to pay for full access," said Gordon Crovitz, co-founder of the platform company Journalism Online that allows publishers to charge for online access. Crovitz is the former publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal, owned by News Corp, also charges for some of its online content.
Aside from a handful of papers like the FT and Wall Street Journal, it remains to be seen whether other newspapers will be successful at charging for content.
For instance, of the three dozen newspapers that have moved to some sort of online pay model, only 1% of readers have opted to pay, according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Near midday, New York Times Co's stock was up 38 cents or 4.3% at $9.24 per share.