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Aug. 18, 2016, 1:15 p.m.
LINK: www.nytco.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joseph Lichterman   |   August 18, 2016

The New York Times said Thursday that it is shutting down its NYT Now app. The app was an attempt at developing a mobile product aimed at a younger audience. The app will stop being available for download on Aug. 29.

The Times launched the app in April 2014 as a paid product aimed at younger readers, but the app struggled to attract subscribers and the paper ultimately made the app free to use. NYT Now averaged 257,000 unique users over the past three months, the Times reported. At its highest point, in May 2015, the app had 334,000 unique users.

In a memo, Kinsey Wilson, the Times’ executive vice president for product and technology, and David Perpich, the Times’ senior vice president for product, said that the lessons learned from NYT Now already influence other Times products:

While NYT Now attracted a loyal following, these broader gains demonstrated that we did not need a separate lower-priced or limited free offering in the marketplace to drive growth. And we can focus our energy and resources on innovation in our main New York Times products (including Cooking, Crosswords and Watching) and on targeting younger readers where they often are: on social platforms.

Last year, the Times’ digital subscriber base grew to 1 million, and the paper has made digital subscriptions a priority moving forward. In 2014, the company generated $400 million in digital revenue, and last fall the Times said its goal is to double that to $800 million by 2020.

In a series of tweets, Clifford Levy, the assistant masthead editor overseeing digital platforms and the original newsroom leader of the NYT Now effort, explained the thinking behind the move:

NYT Now was one of a series of standalone subscription products the Times introduced in an attempt to attract new paying readers. In June 2014, it also introduced NYT Opinion, an app featuring the paper’s opinion content, but it shuttered the app that fall after failing to attract an audience. “The sheer volume of people looking at it wasn’t enough to sustain it,” Andy Rosenthal, then the Times opinion editor, told the Lab when the closure was announced. This is not us saying it didn’t work as a journalistic venture; it did. It’s just not working as a business.”

Since then, the Times has introduced NYT Cooking, which highlights the paper’s catalog of recipes. The cooking site and apps are free to use, but earlier this year the Times said it would begin partnering with a meal kit service that would allow users to buy the ingredients for the recipes. It’s also created Watching, a movie and TV recommendation site.

While NYT Now may not have attracted a large enough audience to make it sustainable — and, as Levy wrote, much of its DNA lives on in the main Times mobile app — users on Twitter nonetheless lamented the app’s closure:

A different and darker perspective:

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