New York Times Shakes Up App Strategy

Shifts to metered approach

Starting a week from today, the top news section in The New York Times' mobile apps will no longer be freely available to non-subscribers.

The newspaper announced on Thursday that after June 27, readers who don't subscribe to the Times can only access three articles a day on its apps, no matter the section.

As things stand today, nonsubscribers are able to read all the content in the top news section of the apps but not stories in other sections, such as business, world and politics. The Times said its video section would still be free, and the company is also offering a free weeklong trial of the latest versions of its apps, which will be available on June 27.

The Times had planned the app change since it launched its paywall on the Web, said Denise Warren, evp of the Times Digital Products and Services Group. It provides consistency across the Web and apps experiences, she said, adding that "the metering approach is a better consumer choice approach."

Still, she admitted, less content will be freely available now. But it was "time to restore the balance between what you can get for free on the apps versus what you can get on the website," she said. "We still think it's incredibly generous."

The meter is flexible, though, Warren added, and it can be changed if three free articles turns out to be the wrong approach. 

Thursday's announcement follows moves by the Times to further restrict free access to its content in hopes that readers will pay for the product. The paper's paywall initially allowed free access to 20 articles a month, but the company lowered the bar last year to 10 articles. And at the end of the Times' statement, of course, was a link to the company's digital subscriptions page.