Would you pay to read the NY Times online? Survey results revealed!

Last week, the introduction of the New York Times paywall prodded me to ask all of you whether or not you’d read features and/or reviews from the Arts and Leisure section if you were forced to fork over your credit card info.

Ready for the down-and-dirty results?  I bet you can guess them.

  • First of all, 81.27% of those polled do NOT subscribe to the New York Times.
  • That leaves only 18.73% that do subscribe.

Next, when the non-subscribers were asked if they would pay to read a feature article . . .

  • 64.69% would NOT pay to read a feature.
  • 8.75% would pay.
  • 26.56% might pay.

Finally, when the non-subscribers were asked if they would pay to read a review  . . .

  • 70.25% would NOT pay to read a review.
  • 8.23% would pay.
  • 21.52% might pay.

So what does this mean?

First off, the only number that suprised me was the number of my readers that weren’t subscribers to the Times. But, I guess that’s why they are in this paywall mess in the first place.

Second, if I was a NY Times exec., I’d be frightened by these figures, even though it’s a very casual survey of a very specific type of reader (I don’t think the Times is counting on A&L readers to keep their biz going – still, I have to wonder if the Times did a similar survey before they erected their paywall).  The Times has to know they are going to lose readers.  The hope is that the small percentage that will pay will generate more income for the business than the readers they are going to lose.

Lastly, the results indicate that there is a large percentage of you that would consider paying for both features and reviews, which once again proves that it doesn’t matter what the barrier of entry is . . . if the content is crown-worthy, the people will pay.

As I’ve said before, people are not price resistant, they are value resistant.  They will pay $3,000 for a handbag or $5 for a cup of coffee or $150 for a theater ticket, if there is enough value in the experience, and if the experience is rare enough (which is the problem with the NY Times model – since free news is everywhere).

The challenge for the New York Times isn’t getting people to pay for their content.  The challenge for the New York Times is getting the content to a level where it’s worth paying for.

Thanks for taking the survey!  Oh, and if you ever max out on your 20 free articles and are dying to read the NY Times reviews, don’t forget you can always read them for free by visiting them through other sites . . . like, oh, I don’t know, this one?  🙂

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.