New York Times to charge in 2011

While details are scarce about how exactly the New York Times will begin its pay wall next year, at least the Times is now saying that it may allow 10 to 20 free viewings a month before asking for payment.

According to an article by David Carr, the Times said that it wanted to keep its casual online readers as well as its subscribers, approximately 17 million online readers.

TechCrunch guesstimates that if only 10% of its frequent readers pay $10 a month, that would mean approximately $3 million a month or $36 million a year, which is simply keeping online revenue steady. At $15 a month, or more readers, the profits roll in.

But as Erick Schonfeld points out, if a signficant number of those readers decide to go elsewhere for news, those numbers can drop quickly.

The metered approach could work, and unlike Schonfeld, I don't think readers initially paying $10 a month would be going elsewhere for news for free. Where would they go, to aggregates like the Drudge Report or the blog-heavy Huffington Post? It's not the same audience or even experience. Schonfeld is good at crunching numbers but I don't think he's good at predicting lifestyle trends or those who voraciously consume Sunday Styles.

Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher of the Times, told the Wall Street Journal, "Our audiences are very loyal and we believe that our readers will pay for our award-winning digital content and services."

We have another year to see if he's correct. In the meantime, enjoy your free content.

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