‘Why, exactly, is a reader who comes to the website via Google or Facebook more desirable than someone who types in “www.nytimes.com”?’
Asks The Economist.
The New York Times has always been my hometown newspaper. It was one of the few things I was sorry to leave behind when I left New York, even though it was getting smaller and skinnier by the year, even then, realizing as I did that home delivery of the Times would no longer be possible living in the country in western Canada. When we finally got internet, especially wifi the other year, it was wonderful to have daily, or depending on my schedule, weekly access to the Times again. But now I may be losing it again, or at least if I want to read more than the five articles a day I can access for free via Google.
Lucky Canada is the guinea pig of the experiment. As Arthur Sulzberger wrote on March 17,
Today, we are rolling out digital subscriptions to our readers in Canada, which will enable us to fine-tune the customer experience before our global launch. On March 28, we will begin offering digital subscriptions in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
The cheapest option, nytimes.com and smartphone app, is $15/month or $180 a year. I don’t have a smartphone, and it occurs to me a nytimes.com only and/or foreign resident option, for those of us who are unable to buy a print subscription to the Times (which automatically nets you digital access), would be a nice thing. But it took the Times a year to figure out the newly premiered three-tier plan.