New York Times Makes Pay Wall Harder to Jump


A year after launching a controversial pay wall, The New York Times revealed Tuesday that it has nearly half a million paying subscribers for its flagship paper.

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The company also said it will make it harder for people to read web publications without paying up.

The Times is cutting back the number of "free" articles it lets non-subscribers read, from 20 a month to 10. The change goes into effect in April.

The rest of the pay wall's architecture appears to remain unchanged. The publisher will still let visitors who end up at the paper after following a link from Twitter or Facebook go over the 10-article limit as many times as they want. And it will offer a similar, but more limited dispensation for those sent there by Google.

The idea is to offer a "porous" wall that lets the newspaper have it both ways -- avid readers will need to pay up, but the paper still gets the benefit of search and social web traffic.

At launch, that strategy seemed to befuddle the Times' critics, and the paper did not do the most effective job at communicating the details. But consumers seem to have figured it out.

In the last quarter of 2011, circulation revenue was up about five percent, driven by digital subscription uptake. But overall revenue continues to decline.