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The New York Times is ready to start extending sales of its “all access” digital subscriptions across tablets and smartphones to companies and organizations with more than 50 employees. The introduction of a new structure of paid digital circulation comes as the promotion that gave 100,000 NYT digital subscribers access through subsidized a Ford Lincoln marketing campaign enters its last month in December.
The NYT won’t estimate how many of those users it expects to convert to paying for their own access after the Lincoln digital subscription coverage ends. Under that program, which began roughly a month after the NYT introduced its metered paywall for complete access to its website and other digital formats last spring, a limited amount of users who clicked on a Lincoln ad on the NYT homepage were offered the digital subscription for the rest of 2011 after paying a one-time $35 fee.
There are currently three tiers for digital access to the NYT content. Although there are often discounts offered, it regularly charges $35 for complete monthly access to the NYT’s website, smartphone and tablet content; $15 a month for the site and smartphone access; and $20 a month for the site and tablet only. Print subscribers also get the option of free digital access.
The new group subscriptions will be offered according to those three tiers and will be discounted from those above prices, said Ray Pearce, the NYT’s VP for Circulation and Reader Applications, in an interview with paidContent. The rates will be determined by the number of individuals a company or organization adds.
“This is a response to the number of requests we’ve gotten to set up group subscriptions,” Pearce said. “We’ve built a subscription model that we think will meet the individual needs of pretty much any organization. There is a self-management tool that will make it easy to assign access to individual employees. For example, if a company can assign single administrator to manage who gets access. We’ve also made it easy to add, delete and substitute individuals who fall under a company’s group subscription. For example, if an employee leaves the company, the company can simply assign that access ‘seat’ to someone else.”
Individuals who get the NYT’s digital access will not have the same level of access as those who pay for it themselves. For example, since last July, print and all-access digital subs have been able to share their mobile and website subscriptions with family members. That family sharing option is not available to those enrolled in the group discount, Pearce noted.
As for those who get the NYT digital access on there own, Pearce said that there will continue to be a number of free ways of getting its content. For example, last week, the NYT released The Collection, a fashion news app. And while there are other digital discount deals that in the works, they will be more limited than the Lincoln-sponsored subscriptions and will more closely resemble the month-long free access that was given to NYT iPad app readers courtesy of Ralph Lauren’s sponsored coverage in September.
The NYT, which only discloses the number of digital subscriptions during its quarterly earnings, recently said that it has continued to make progress on its metered paywall, saying that it had 324,000 paid digital subscribers-compared to 224,000 in Q2. Overall, including paid and sponsored relationships, the NYT over 1.2 million digital subs. The hope is that as more people get used to reading the NYT on their computer and mobile devices, they’ll be converted into fuller subscribers.
In any case, the group subscription plan, which Pearce said complies with the Audit Bureau of Circulation rules, should help boost its digital circ, even if the NYT loses some digital subs after the Lincoln sponsorship concludes.
“We think as more people get access to our digital offerings, whether it’s after a free period of sponsorship or through their company, they’ll eventually want to get access for themselves,” Pearce said.