America's third largest newspaper says free is good!

The New York Times has earned the reputation of being one of the world's premier newspapers since its founding in 1851.  For over 150 years people have relied on the paper to report their news daily.  Today, the Times is America's third largest newspaper, trailing only USA Today and The Wall Street Journal in distribution.

The Times hit the online newsstand in 1995 and has been a powerful internet news presence ever since.  The only downside is that it relegated much of its best content to "select" status.  Access to TimesSelect for this year was priced at $7.95 per month or $49.95 per year.

Now the Times has made a significant announcement in a press release -- there will be no more "select" content; everything on the site will be viewable free of charge.  The Times foresees significant increase in traffic as it opens up access to over 20 of its premier columns.

The Times' move already has its first major corporate sponsor, eager to increase its advertising presence:  American Express.

The TimesSelect launched in September 2005, and according to The New York Times had 787,400 active subscribers -- 471,200 whom received it as part of their paper subscription and 227,000 who paid solely for the online access.

Perhaps more significantly, the move also opens up a significant chunk of the Times online archives, which hold nearly all its content since the 1800s.  The 1851 to 1922 and 1987 to present archives will be offered free of charge. 

The only downside is that the 1923 to 1986 archives are only available via purchase in single or 10-article packages.

Additional tools for personalizing and customizing your Times account are also made available for free.

Free is the best price in most people's mind and the Times is setting a positive example by finally making most of its content available free of charge.  The Times’ faith in advertiser revenue is similar to the spirit embodied by SpiralFrog, a free online music download service which launched yesterday, paid for solely by ad support.  As more legal free content proliferates through various web firms, the internet is transforming the modern business model and businesses are learning -- sometimes free can actually make money.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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