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Legions of Skeptics Greet 'Times' Metered Model

Ending nearly a year of rumors and speculation, The New York Times on Wednesday confirmed plans to implement a metered pay system, which will give non-paying readers access to select stories, while limiting full access to paying subscribers. The kicker is that the paper doesn't expect to employ the new model until early 2011.

According to The Times' David Carr, the delay allows executives to "land" the announcement -- like one lands a blow -- "with some authority, but not much impact."

Adds Carr: "People who remain reflexively bullish on free ignore that fact that the clock is ticking on many of the legacy businesses that produce that content."

Indeed, despite The Times' arguably failed attempts at paid content, "The move is something we've all seen coming, as more and more newspapers have shut down in recent years," writes ReadWriteWeb. "Many fear that putting content behind a wall of pay-only use will just drive readers to go to other sources, but perhaps the Times' approach will help to combat that issue."

Likening The Times' new approach to the Financial Times' existing one, MediaMemo writes: "Both are have-cake/eat-cake strategies: Generate as big as an audience as possible to sell to advertisers, while extracting a second revenue stream from hard-core readers."

Joining legions of skeptics, Mashable doubts whether the new model will attract new readers. "Yes, some people will subscribe," it writes, "But most people will simply click on NYTimes stories while they're free, and stop clicking when they hit a paywall ... The metered model (from what we know now) is not a horrible solution, but it's not a revolutionary one, either ... It's just enough to keep NYTimes afloat."

To justify the decision, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Times "executives analyzed more than 30 businesses that charged for at least some of their Web material, including Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN, Weight Watchers International Inc. and Consumer Reports." The Journal's story, however, is for subscribers only




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