Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The model of the New York Times

The New York Times seems to win the challenge of developing its paywall. It has 450000 paying subscribers that add up to the print subscribers who have opted for the digital service. The global figure is 800000  digital subscribers. If you consider that the average subscription fee is 120 dollars a year, it means that the paywall amounts to about 60 million dollars a year, a fairly significant figure.

Still other newspapers executives should not jump too quickly to an early conclusion. The NYT is a very special daily doted with a strong label, an exceptionnal team of 1000 journalists. Its digital policy has been pursued for 15 years with many significant failures. Also, the print edition that carries 90% of the income is in trouble. Since the beginning of 2012, the sales have gone down by 4.5%.

The lesson for French newspapers is that a proper digital policy is a long term effort that will pay off in 5 or maybe 10 years, when the print will be close to collapse. It means too that the quality of information must be coupled with a very cautious subscription policy People are definitely more ready to pay now than 5 years ago but they will only agree with very moderate rates. It is obvious, for instance,that the subscription rate of le Monde is much too high which is a pity if you consider the huge potential of this prestigious daily. What national and regional dailies must do is build up a long term strategy to improve the content of the website and get people used to pay for what they need. The rendez vous is 2022.