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Summary:

News brands like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are turning to free Wi-Fi as a way to promote their content. In the lates example, Times readers can get 15 free stories a day while sitting in Starbucks.

Starbucks Coffee
photo: Starbucks

Caffeine-addicted New York Times fans are in luck — the paper is offering 15 free articles a day to those who surf its website while sitting in a Starbucks. This is just the latest example of how news brands are using the public’s insatiable appetite for free WiFi as a vehicle to promote their content.

Under the Times‘ Starbucks plan, which went into effect last week but was announced today, readers will be entitled to read three articles a day from each of the News, Business, Technology and Most Emailed sections. The Times will also offer three more articles from a rotating list of other sections like Sports.

The Starbucks offer comes at a time when the Times is tightening loopholes around its so-called “metered paywall” which caps readers at 10 free articles a month.

Times spokesperson, Linda Zebian, confirmed by phone that the 15 articles available through Starbucks are in addition to the 10 free monthly ones. The catch, however, is that the Times’ chooses the free Starbucks stories. It offers them on a special landing page that looks like this:

New York Times Starbucks promotion

Zebian would not provide specifics about the business arrangements between the Times and Starbucks, and only noted that the Times has long sold its newspapers through the coffee chain. Most Starbucks locations across the country provide free Wi-Fi.

The Starbucks gambit is just one way that news brands are using Wi-Fi to promote and distribute their digital content. In August, the Wall Street Journal announced a plan to provide free Wi-Fi access in more than 1300 hotspots in New York and San Francisco; the only requirement is for readers to log-in to the Journal’s website. These Wi-Fi schemes provide the news companies not only with exposure, but also allow them to glean valuable customer data such as where and when readers visit their sites.

  1. Actually, this is LESS then used to be in effect… SDN, since its launch, had offered unlimited access to NYT

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  2. Thomas Leliveld Thursday, February 28, 2013

    This looks a nice initiative… however it does not “tie the users to stay at Starbucks and order another coffee, as the user can take home their ipad or other tablet and continue reading the downloaded content elsewhere, even at a competitor’s coffee store… The idea is 75% baked, but not yet what it should be… watch this space ..

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  3. Not a bad idea for those of us who hit their 10 free articles a month partway through the month …. does it count towards that, if we are logged in to the NYT web site? Or do we get a pass?

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  4. Nice, if you can find a Starbucks with an empty seat and an electrical outlet that hasnt been concreted over,,,

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  5. What’s not super clear to me here is who is paying who? I.e. is NYTimes paying Stbux for the audience, or Stbux paying NYTimes for the content.

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