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New York Times Seeing Online Success

By David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Article Date: 2006-01-25

Subscribers to Times Select have nearly reached the level forecast by the company, while advertising revenues increased for the publisher as well.

The paper of record had hoped to reach a subscriber level of 200,000 for its Times Select service's first year. An article in Editor and Publisher noted how the Times has picked up 156,000 subscribers already.

Times Select debuted in September 2005. For readers to be able to view columnists previously available at NYTimes.com, the Times imposed a $49.95 annual fee for that access. Additionally, subscribers can view columnist blogs and retrieve archived articles.

The report commented on one issue that had made newspaper editors upset. Even though other papers pay to carry Times Op-Ed columnists, the Times insisted those papers could not publish email addresses to reach those columnists. Only paying subscribers can email them.

No changes to that policy will be forthcoming. With the Times seeing online success with the Select service, it doesn't look like it will ever change. It wouldn't be surprising to see the opposite happen, with the Times going the Wall Street Journal route and walling off the majority of its content for subscribers only.

A factor that could make that happen, aside from declining print subscriber numbers, would be the Times' strong fourth quarter ad revenue. Its About.com websites drew $16.7 million in revenue for the fourth quarter, ClickZ said in its coverage of the Times' earnings call.

With enough subscribers adding Times Select to their credit card bills, and continued strength in About.com's ad numbers, perhaps the Times Company may harbor secret forbidden desires to go for the gold and leave more freeloaders in the cold.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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