Peter Kafka

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Time Magazine Rolls Out Print/Digital Subscriptions — And Puts Up Another Web Pay Wall

Time magazine is making it easier for readers to subscribe to its digital and print editions. And it is making it harder for non-subscribers to read the magazine on the Web.

The weekly is rolling out an “all-access” plan that kicks in Thursday. It will give readers a chance to purchase bundles that will give them access to the magazine in multiple formats: Print editions delivered to their mailboxes, app versions beamed to their iPads and other tablets, and Web versions at

This is the second time Time Inc., Time Warner’s publishing unit, has rolled out a print/digital bundle. Earlier this year it announced a similar “magazines everywhere” package for Sports Illustrated.

You can read pricing details in the press release below. What you won’t see there: News that, along with the bundles, the magazine will put up a paywall on its site which will keep non-subscribers from reading the print version for three months after it hits the newsstand.

If that sounds familiar, there’s a reason. put up a wall for its print magazine content almost exactly a year ago, and said at that time it would be doing that for most of its titles.

It’s unclear to me when and why the title knocked down its Web barriers — right now, for instance, you can read all of Time’s most recent issue for free — but they are going back up this week, and some Time staffers I’ve heard from are grumbling about the move. But as I’ve said before, it’s likely that the vast majority of’s visits and page views come from stuff that isn’t in the magazine, and that will continue to be free, so most site visitors may not notice any change at all.

Also worth noting is that while last spring’s Sports Illustrated announcement focused on Time Inc.’s deal to sell magazine subscriptions via Google’s Android platform, today’s news notes that the subscriptions will also work with Apple’s iPad.

That is: Even though Time Inc. isn’t using Apple’s new iTunes subscription service, it’s able to use Apple’s new iTunes subscription terms to deliver iPad subscriptions on its own. Time won’t sell subscriptions to the magazine through iTunes or via the app, but it will encourage readers to head to a Time Inc. Web page to sign up for a bundle. That means the company loses a marketing resource, but retains 100 percent of its subscription revenue, and all of the subscriber information it treasures.

Readers Will Now Pay A One-Time Subscription Fee To Get the Print Edition
Plus Access to Tablet Apps and the New Magazine Channel On

(New York, July 19, 2011)—TIME announced today that, starting this week, subscribers
will now pay one price for an “All Access” subscription to TIME magazine content wherever
they want to read it: in print, online and on tablet apps. This subscription model rewards loyal
customers with more choice and quality at no additional cost.

With TIME’s “All Access,” current subscribers to TIME will continue to receive the print
magazine, plus have access to a new paid magazine channel on and be able to
download their issues on Apple iPad, HP Touchpad and Samsung Galaxy Tab. The
magazine channel will be a paid section of the website that will contain all new magazine
content on an ongoing basis beginning with this week’s issue. Subscribers will activate their “All
Access” accounts using their existing magazine account number or mailing address.

New subscribers will have three options to access TIME magazine content:
1. Subscribe to TIME “All Access” for $30/year and receive 56 print issues, full online
access and all tablet apps
2. Sign up for a 1-week short term pass to access magazine content on for $4.99/
3. Sign up for a $2.99/month “All Access” subscription. Each month readers get all of the
print editions of TIME, the tablet editions and access to magazine content on
This subscription can be cancelled anytime.

The new magazine channel on is one of a series of new content verticals the site
has launched in the past year and a half, including Newsfeed, Swampland, Lightbox, Techland,
Healthland and MoneyLand. has 95% original content separate and distinct from
magazine content and has broken multiple traffic records in 2011. In June, the site had 93 million
pages views, up 31% year over year, and 11.3 million unique visitors, up 27% year over year,
according to comScore. TIME is up in ad pages and revenue for the first six months of the year,
up 8.1% in pages and 11.2% in revenue. TIME is the #1 magazine brand on Twitter with more
than 2.6 million followers.

TIME is the second Time Inc. title to launch a subscription plan allowing consumers to pay once
and access their content across multiple platforms. Sports Illustrated announced a similar “All
Access” plan in February 2011.

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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