New York Times to Charge $15 a Month for Access to Newspaper’s Website

New York Times Co. (NYT) said it will begin charging readers who don’t subscribe to its namesake newspaper on Mar. 28 for content on the publication’s website.

Times Co. will charge $15 every four weeks for unlimited access to the site from a computer or mobile phone, the company said in a statement today. A package for access online and through the paper’s tablet-computer application will run $20 every four weeks and access from any device will be $35.

Times Co., based in New York, is looking to its website to bolster revenue as print advertising and circulation sales fall. The company’s revenue slid 1.9 percent last year to $2.39 billion, the fourth year of decline.

“This is really a major move,” said Edward Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in New York. “This is the future of the company.”

Non-subscribers will still be allowed to read 20 stories for free each month, and access the NYTimes.com home page and section fronts, the company said.

Times Co. rose 3 cents to $8.89 in New York Stock Exchange trading. The stock has dropped 9.3 percent this year.

Under the plan unveiled today, subscribers to the print editions of the newspaper, whether they subscribe daily or only on weekends, will be able to register for full, free access to the website. Readers who find links to stories from some search engines and blogs will also be able to read those stories for free, even if they’ve reached the monthly limit, the company said.

Online Readership

“This allows us to reinforce our revenue stream and put ourselves in a position to continue to deliver high-quality information,” Janet Robinson, the company’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. “There may be in the early days a dip in traffic. From a longer-term perspective, we will grow our audience and our advertising base.”

The newspaper’s website has been boosting its readership, increasing its monthly unique visitors to about 49 million in January from 45 million in December, according to the research firm ComScore Inc.

Online advertising spending in the U.S. grew 13.9 percent to $25.8 billion in 2010, according to EMarketer, a New York- based research firm. It was the first year that online advertising topped print newspaper advertising, the firm said. U.S. print newspaper advertising fell 8.2 percent to $22.8 billion in 2010, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brett Pulley in New York at bpulley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom in New York at pelstrom@bloomberg.net.

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