Last week the New York Times announced a newly released feature called Premiere. What really got to me was that the New York Times is planning on charging its print subscribers (we have both a daily print and digital subscription) $10/month for the service. Keep in mind that the yearly 7-day subscription for the printed New York Times is roughly $700. Apparently that’s not enough for the New York Times thus the additional 17.5% premium was created for dwindling print subscribers. If I sound annoyed it’s because I am.
From the NY Times – The Times Premier subscription will cost $45 for four weeks, or an extra $10 for the same period for home delivery subscribers. The subscription, which also includes special content like access to compilations of articles from The Times’s archive and additional crossword puzzles, is shareable with two family members, and includes three 12-week all-digital-access gift subscriptions each year.
The benefit to print subscribers of sharing with two family members is meager at best. 12- week digital gift subscriptions not much more than a lead generator for subscriptions.
Treating your best customers shabbily is always a sucker bet. Sure there will be dedicated NY Times print subscribers that will pony up the $10/month. The Times no doubt has a model as to how many print subscribers will pay the additional fee for ‘lite’ curated digital access. As I am both a print and digital subscriber I cannot believe The Times would ask me to pay those additional fees for the Premiere access. The Times has done dumb things like this before in its attempt to build paywalls – http://gigaom.com/2011/08/12/the-nyt-doesnt-have-a-paywall-its-a-line-of-sandbags/
At the end of the day maximizing per subscriber revenue is apparently too tempting to resist for the New York Times. To me anyone that pays $700+/year for a print subscription should get every damned thing the Old Grey Lady has to offer and then some. Eventually the Times will figure this out but why does it always have to be done using the long route? Drilling your best customers is not the way. Ever.