The New York Times
last week introduced a metered paywall to Wirecutter
, the product review site it bought five years ago. The move indicates the publisher sees a way to diversify
revenue for another one of its media brands.
Most of Wirecutter’s revenue comes from fees paid by affiliates such as Amazon for referrals to their ecommerce sites. Amid the
growth in online shopping, Wirecutter’s revenue has risen steadily since it was founded in 2011.
With the new metered paywall
readers get 10 free stories a month before
they are asked to sign up for a subscription that costs $5 a month or $40 a year. The reader revenue strategy is aimed at the site’s heaviest users who are most likely to value its product
is included in the NYT’s
all-access digital subscription that costs $25 every four weeks, most of the review
site’s readers aren’t subscribers. Among the 12 million readers who visit Wirecutter’s
site each month, only about one-quarter of them are subscribers or registered users of
the NYT, The Wall Street Journal reported
The NYT doesn’t disclose how
much money it makes from Wirecutter, grouping that revenue in its “other” category, which rose 8.7% from a year earlier to $46.5 million in the second quarter. The company
attributed the growth primarily to Wirecutter, whose strength in ecommerce likely offset declines in the NYT’s live events business during the pandemic.
Wirecutter’s site says it doesn’t have any incentive to recommend inferior products. Bad picks would undermine reader trust, and lead to lost revenue when consumers send back
products that are unsatisfactory.
As part of its reader revenue strategy, the NYT last month also started charging subscriptions to some of its online
Ideally, the NYT can convert the small percentage of heavy Wirecutter users into paid subscribers, as the media company has done with its other
products, such as its Cooking and Games content. From there, the NYT can work to upsell readers on all-access subscriptions as it expand its paid readership from about 8
million now to 10 million in the next few years.