'Time' Site To Erect Paywall For Mag-Only Content

Time

Time magazine is restricting access to the online versions of print content through the multi-stage implementation of a new online paywall.

In the first stage, already completed, the full versions of print content are available only to print subscribers or people who purchase the $4.99 iPad edition of the magazine; other online visitors see an abridged or abbreviated version of the print content, with a note explaining the subscription requirement.

The Web site's original content (online-only features that are not published in the print edition, and which constitute a large majority of the site's content) will remain free.

As present, the new policy seems intended to force online readers to subscribe to the print edition of Time. If that's the case, it might help slow the continuing decline in the newsweekly's circulation and readership.

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It also removes one of the obstacles that might hinder sales of the iPad app. (Namely, that the same content was available for free online via the same device.)

According to various reports, a plan is in the works to allow readers without print subscriptions to access the online version of Time's print content, perhaps by purchasing an online-only subscription or paying fees for single articles. Once implemented, this second stage will create a fairly standard online paywall system.

Whatever the final version of the Time paywall looks like, the decision to move to a model requiring readers to pay for content represents an about-face from the free, ad-supported model that has dominated the online ventures of American magazines.

Significantly, online ad revenues remain a relatively small part of Time Inc.'s overall business after a decade of Web operations, contributing just 12% ($225 million) of total ad revenues in 2009. That's down from about $242 million, or 10% of total ad revenues, in 2010.

4 comments about "'Time' Site To Erect Paywall For Mag-Only Content".
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  1. Michael Lynn from Storandt Pann Margolis, July 8, 2010 at 9:04 a.m.

    Having been a relatively loyal Time reader over many years and occasionally glancing at the magazine in its present form, if this is any indicator of the content that I am supposed to pay for, I don't think that Time will succeed. Didn't Time Inc fail at this in the early years of the Internet? Are they doomed to repeat their failure by not learning from their earlier experience?

  2. Thomas Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, July 8, 2010 at 10:39 a.m.

    Last Christmas, I got a free subscription to TIME from a buddy of mine -- who I believe was able to give two free holiday subscriptions with his re-subscription -- and I feel like I got what I paid for: The magazine is pretty much worthless.

    There's nearly nothing to be learned from it, it's a transparent establishment shill for the status quo, and it catches on to trends long after I'm aware of them. TIME's columnists are smug insiders who after a couple attempts I now never read, and the critics are mostly dull and predictable, yet unreliable (I mean, Jesus; they liked "Knight & Day").

    Most weeks, I get the issue, flip through it,read a couple things near the front, toss it in the garbage. Five minutes, tops. There may have been a half-dozen articles I've read since December, but maybe less than that, too.

    TIME recently sent me a re-subscription query, which made me laugh mirthlessly. They wanted money for it, now, but I'm not sure I'd keep getting it even if it was free.

    So now they want five bucks for an iPad version? These people are delusional. They're dead mag walking.

  3. Thom Kennon from Free Radicals, July 8, 2010 at 2:02 p.m.

    I'm confused. How will adding a paywall help stanch the decline in circ and readership? It will only hasten the cratering of both business critical stats.

    Cue the music...

    Thom Kennon | @tkennon | bigevidence.blogspot.com

  4. David Weller, July 8, 2010 at 6:10 p.m.

    "As present, the new policy seems intended to force online readers to subscribe to the print edition of Time."

    I'll be interested in seeing if this works and their print subscriptions rise enough to make this a profitable paywall model, even in the short term. My hunch is that it won't, and for every person who agrees to get Time in the mail (Time?the mail? is it 1992?) in order to have access to some online content, there will be double or triple that number who turn away and don't return. Time should be moving forward into creating premium, multi-platform digital content partnerships with stronger publications and brands than itself because, like others here have said, it's just not a great product anymore.

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