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Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Inside the New York Times' Paywall Brain

The New York Times (NYT) has announced that it will be putting up an online paywall by the end of the year. And that the paywall will allow users to visit for free a certain number of times per month. And that the paywall will be expensive to build.

Beyond that, though, it hasn’t said much. But now we’re getting a little peek at the Times’ thinking about the paywall’s particulars, via online surveys it is conducting.

Bits and pieces of surveys have appeared in online reports in the last few day; a source familiar with the company tells me the paper is specifically targeting home delivery subscribers with this round of questions. NYT spokesman Bob Christie allows only that “research … is being conducted as part of the paid model.  We will have more to discuss later in the year. “

In any case, the survey excerpts don’t tell us what the Times intends to do — they only tell us what the paper is thinking about. Still, they’re informative.

Here’s a screenshot, via Lenovo marketing executive David Churbuck, which runs through a menu of different bundle options — home delivery plus website access for $64 a month, online plus access to mobile devices like Apple’s iPad (AAPL) for $40 a month, etc:

And here’s a query the Wall Street Journal’s Zach Seward saw, which throws out a $1/month price for online access:

And finally, another price point, via Churbuck. The wording is confusing here but I think the paper is asking about Web access at $2/month for home delivery subscribers:

Again, the obvious caveat here is that none of the above screenshots tell us where the paper will end up when it rolls out its paywall. But they do show us that paper is thinking hard about giving home delivery subscribers — who are incredibly valuable — a reason to remain home delivery subscribers. And that the paper is considering a model in which access to the site via iPad and other mobile devices is a privilege you have to pay for — consistent with the approach we’ve seen from Hulu, Time Warner’s Time Inc (TWX) and other big media companies.

As an aside, I think that mobile = money approach isn’t going to pan out for most folks. But more on that later. Meantime, if any other NYT subs want to send along snapshots of their surveys, I’d be much obliged: Peter AT AllthingsD DOT com. Thanks in advance!

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik