The NYT pay-fence is working:
The internal projections have been closely held, but several people have confirmed that the goal was to amass 300,000 online subscribers within a year of launch. On Thursday, the company announced that after just four months, 224,000 users were paying for access to the paper’s website.
I’m particularly glad that the NYT has proven that a very porous paywall can work—one in which just about anybody online can read just about any NYT article for free very easily. The media business has never been about denying access to people who want to read your publication, but the paywalls at News Corp., as well as the one at the FT, are based around that model. The NYT, by contrast, has proven that people will pay even if the paywall is extremely porous.
Ryan Chittum contextualizes the success:
An all-digital newspaper would shed something like 60 percent of its costs. The problem has been, of course, is that they’ve been shedding 90 percent of their advertising revenue when going from print to online. A paywall adds a potentially lucrative stream of digital revenue to the ad side, and smart paywalls, like the Times’s allow casual readers in without charging them. That lets the paper collect subscription and ad revenue from its core users, while keeping the ad revenue that comes from its non-core users, who represent the vast majority of the unique visitors who come to the Times site, but account for disproportionately few of its overall pageviews