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Earnings Call: NYT Exploring How Many Online Readers Are Willing To Pay — And How Much

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Not a shocker but New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) CEO Janet Robinson used the Q2 earnings call (still in progress) to say flat out that the company is looking at a metered plan and a membership plan as ways to charge for online access. Robinson said the company is conducting “qualitative and quantitative” research into how many online readers are willing to pay — and how much — for access to the NYT online.

But she was careful to frame it as an add-on to what the company is already doing, saying that is “very successful” at generating more revenues from the site than the vast majority of web sites the company has studied. She didn’t say whether any of the company’s projection for that additional revenue can come close to making up for the drop in online advertising — let alone the move away from print to the web.

Asset sales update: NYTCo has been public about its efforts to sell its 17.75 percent stake in New England Sports Ventures, LLC; Robinson said today that the company expects to complete the process by year’s end. No details about possible buyers or price. She was less forthcoming about the possible sale of the Boston Globe, saying she would not comment other than to remind people that “we regularly review our portfolio of properties.” No idea why she couldn’t simply admit that the paper and its New England sib the Worcester Telegram & Gazette are for sale — or say that the reports, including those in the NYTCo’s own papers, are completely wrong.