July 9 (Bloomberg) — New York Times Co. said in a survey of print subscribers that it’s considering a $5 monthly fee for access to its namesake newspaper’s Web site.
Times Co. also asked whether subscribers would be willing to pay a discounted fee of $2.50 a month for access to the site, in the poll confirmed today byCatherine Mathis, a company spokeswoman. Nytimes.com, the most visited among newspapers’ sites, is currently free.
Times Co. is contemplating additional sources of revenue as marketers slow spending on the Internet. Ad sales at the publisher’s sites, also including about.com and boston.com, fell 8 percent and 3.5 percent in the first quarter and fourth quarter of 2008 respectively. They gained 6.5 percent last year.
Falling online ad revenues and falling print circulation make introducing a web subscription charge the obvious choice. I’m looking forward to when someone moves from thinking about doing this to actually trying it. At that point we will have a watershed moment for web business models, whether the experiment works or not.