Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: On end games and end times
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
July 27, 2009, 11:55 a.m.

The Times should focus on niches, not Silver and Gold

Yet another stage of the New York Times’s exploration of paid content options has come to light via Gawker, which has posted the text of two potential content packages, labeled “Silver” and “Gold.” It’s clear these are hypothetical options; Gawker quotes a Times spokesperson as writing them that “It’s very early in the process. We are still in the data collection phase.”

As described in the survey, Silver would be priced at $50 a year and offer benefits called FirstLook (early access to some stories) and BackStory (extra background on some stories), as well as TimesWire (now free) and TimesMachine (an archive service now largely free). You also get some extras including bling (coffee mug, tote bag, baseball cap, or a copy of the New York Times Style Guide) and discounts on photo reproductions and other stuff from the Times store.

At the Gold level, you would pay $150 a year for all of the above plus TimesEvents (preferred access to events organized or sponsored by the Times), and TimesInsider (personal access to some Times writers).  The pitch for Gold is “with NYT Gold, you won’t just read the Times, you’ll experience it.”

Silver and Gold sound like packages dreamed up by Times execs who were thinking, “how can we add a couple of layers to the free content we’re putting on the site, and make it look like something some people might pay for?”

And what they came up with was something that resembles how memberships are generally packaged at cultural non-profits like the museums, opera companies and symphony orchestras of New York City, which those Times execs are undoubtedly members of. As a museum member, you might get similar invitations to special events, admission to special exhibits, a chance to meet the curator, behind-the-scenes tours, discounts at the museum store, and so on.

But the Times is not a museum. It’s a business with customers. And rather than creating general access packages that are aimed at all of its customers, the Times should look at the many specific niche interests of its customers and offer packages aimed at as many of those niches as possible. Few people are willing to pay for broad news content, no matter who they get to rub shoulders with, but many people are willing to pay for content relevant to their passions. If the Times asked their customers about that, they’d find that frequent traveler might be willing to buy premium travel content; a film buff might pay for deeper movie content; an avid gardener might pay for specialized horticultural material. The Times should think about a suite of TimesChannels: TimesTravel, Times Tech, TimesGourmet, TimesDesign, TimesGarden, TimesArt, TimesFilm, TimesWeather, TimesPuzzles, TimesBooks, TimesPolitics, TimesFinance, TimesWhatever, each with much deeper content than the free website has, each priced at $50 a year, and each potentially capable of attracting an audience as large as TimesSilver or TimesGold might get.

POSTED     July 27, 2009, 11:55 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Newsonomics: On end games and end times
Can publishers find a sustainable business model this new age of Facebook/Apple/Snapchat/Twitter/Google distributed content? And is local news destined to be left behind?
What Scribd’s growing pains mean for the future of digital content subscription models
It turns out that ebook subscription models don’t work very well when people read too much. So what happens next?
How research (and PowerPoints) became the backbone of National Journal’s membership program
“We no longer look at National Journal simply as a news source, but as a collection of resources, as well as a collection of experts we can turn to on occasion.”
What to read next
2843
tweets
A blow for mobile advertising: The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads
Think making money on mobile advertising is hard now? Think how much more difficult it will be with a significant share of your audience is blocking all your ads — all with a simple download from the App Store.
1763For news organizations, this was the most important set of Apple announcements in years
A new Flipboard-clone with massive potential reach, R.I.P. Newsstand, and news stories embedded deeper inside iOS — it was a big day for news on iPhones and iPads.
762Newsonomics: 10 numbers that define the news business today
From video to social, from mobile to paywalls — these data points help define where we are in the “future of news” today, like it or not.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
National Review
The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News
New West
Press+
Animal Político
The UpTake
Next Door Media
Mother Jones
The Globe and Mail
McClatchy
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Chicago News Cooperative