September 23, 2005

How is TimesSelect doing?

The NYT now requires online readers to pay to get to the op-ed columnists, and the paper hasn't written any articles about the new program since last May. What indication do we have of how well it's doing? I notice that the new "Most Emailed Articles" list is nearly bereft of the columns. Only one, by Paul Krugman, makes the top 25 in the last 24 hours list, way down at #14.

The columnists in the past were usually prominent on the list. Check the last 7 days list, which at the moment covers the period before the program began. It's got 7 of the columnists you now have to pay for in the top 25, with only one being from the pay-to-read period, down at #14. And 3 of the top 5 are from the regular columnist, from back when they were free. And look at the last 30 days. The top 4 are all by the regular columnists. 16 of the top 20 are. None of these are pay-to-read articles.

Isn't this squandering their popularity?


XWL said...

The OpEd regulars for the NYT aren't read for what they say, but instead they are read for the legitimacy that their venue imparts upon them.

Making it difficult to access their opinions will only drive them to full irrelavency.

I think the world will continue to turn without MoDowd, Frank Rich, Paul Krugman or David Brooks telling people what to think.

I also think that these columnist are in no position to revolt since without their position on the NYT editorial page few would read them.

I could insert some colorful metaphor about aging prostitutes and doddering patrons to describe the situation at the grey lady, but why bother.

Art said...

Most of the Times columnists appear in papers I see in print form a day later so I can wait. They get paid syndication rights and the local papers pick up a subscriber.
But the Times loses page views on their website. To the extent they make money on that basis they lose. I have no idea what income stream that represents.

amba said...

I don't know why the columnists themselves don't object (I don't know whether they have objected). Even if they get a cut of the revenue, as fewer people think it's worth paying to read them online, it wouldn't amount to much.

Maybe the Times makes more from people reading the paper, so they hope those who are addicted to the columnists will buy the paper or subscribe?

They sure are the wave of the past, though.

Jake said...

Their columnists have shell shock from the bloggers continually fact checking their work. They had to do something or face lifetime work comp bills from the looney farm to warehouse their employees.

This fee is designed to keep bloggers out, and to give their columnists free reign in spouting their insane rantings. After all this paper gets most of their income from a small group of people in Manhattan who enjoy the insane rantings.

SippicanCottage said...

I think it's interesting that the left ( that's how I regard the op ed page of the NYT) has decided to only talk among themselves. Air America, KOS, the network news, they all just talk among themselves. They visit every venue on the net, venting their spleen, but literally never even acknowledge there might be another view on the subject, or notice there's a very large red electoral patch between Boston and Los Angeles on the map.

That's a very undistinguished bunch of writers. I'd estimate 3/4 of their former readers, webwise anyway, only referenced them like a scientist looking into a petri dish.

They make a lot of money, by the way, and the old gray lady might be using this to put a site meter on the page, so to speak. It'll be a lot harder for MoDowd to harangue the times for addtional zeroes if the management can point to it and say: "All seven of your readers refuse to pony up six figure fees for your fishwrap. Bye."

Ross said...

Squandering their popularity? Or capitalizing on it?

I'm actually a little surprised to see -- when I checked just now -- that Dowd was at No. 12. You'd expect the numbers to fall off the cliff when (X) percent of readers were forced to pay for the privilege.

Actually, does anyone have any idea what sort of numbers we're talking about? Story e-mailed 10s of thousands of times?

Ann Althouse said...

Ross: Dowd used to regularly come in at #1. I say it's squandering when considered longterm.

michael a litscher said...

Little wonder that an organization that thinks that tax revenue can be raised simply by raising taxes (ignoring all the negative side effects on the economy, and thus tax revenues) attempts to raise their own revenue by raising the price of their cool-aid.

John Cunningham said...

I think Mickey Kaus made a very sound comment: Times management knows day by day exactly how many people have signed up for the pay site. They have not mentioned the actual numbers. If the numbers were quite high, would they not be trumpeting them?