Lo, The NYTimes Pay Meter Was Instated


paymeterADOTAS – The long-awaited New York Times pay meter will go into effect in the U.S. on March 28. It’s not long-awaited because consumers have been dying to pay for Times’ content, but observers of the industry are curious whether the system can become a viable revenue stream. And if such a system can’t work at the Times, where can it work?

On the plus side, it’s possibly the most innovative digital subscription plan out there. While the home page and section fronts of the NYTimes will remain free to peruse, but after you view 20 articles (which also includes slideshows, videos and other features) in a month, you’re going to have to pay… Possibly. You’ll be asked to sign up for a all-access digital subscription, at least.

The Top News content on smartphone and tablet apps will remain free, and people that receive the actual physical newspaper (wait a second — they’re still printing the old gray lady?) will get complementary digital access. Also, you can read content for free if you’re referred by a search engine or social network.

Thus Nicholas Carlson and Henry Blodgett at Business Insider explain how to read NYTimes for free:

“See a headline you want, highlight it, copy it, and then dump it into your Google search window.  The headline should be returned as the first search result. Then just click it and read.”

The same trick works for other subscription dailies — notably The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times. However, NYTimes is limiting these free referrals per resource — only five clicks allowed daily. Carlson and Blodgett note that once you exhaust your Google five, and for some reason you want to read more NYTimes, you could just switch over to Bing…

It seems like NYTimes has covered all its bases — now we all have to wait to see what kind of revenue comes trickling in. Then we’ll know whether the pay meter is one last attempt at a paid-content news model for the news industry, or the way of the future…


  1. Seriously? They tried this at the LA version of “The Old Gray Lady” and it didn’t take users long to figure out a way around the walled garden. It’s difficult to ask users to pay for content when Google and Yahoo are serving it up to them for free. Limits? To Nicholas and Henry’s comments; I think five a day will be plenty from any single source. The end result? Diminished traffic leading to lost advertising dollars which, at the end of the day, is the real revenue model.


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