Here are the annual prices of a variety of services, all of which allow users to access the service from the web and across multiple devices with a single unified subscription. See if you can pick out which one is the outlier:
As Frédéric Filloux and others have pointed out, The New York Times pricing seems designed not to get people to subscribe digitally, but rather to discourage existing subscribers from cancelling their print subscriptions. I think the chart above validates that view: they apparently have no interest in competing for digital-only dollars.
Does The Times really think the mass audience is going to decide their $455/year is better spent on The Times rather than getting 20+ free articles/month from The Times plus The Wall Street Journal ($207/year) plus The Economist ($110/year) plus say The Daily ($39/year) for good measure, and still having ~$100 left over each year?
Worse, their payment plans are more complicated than any of the others listed. John Gruber has assessed the numerous drawbacks of payment complexity in some detail.
Heck, even the URL for their payment plans is more complicated than anyone else’s: http://www.nytimes.com/subscriptions/Multiproduct/lp0145.html
Here’s what The Times doesn’t seem to get: sooner or later readers are going to cancel their print subscriptions and go digital. The Times’ pricing scheme is only going to encourage them to go with someone else’s digital.
I don’t like to make predictions, but I have a hard time imagining their current “pay labyrinth” scheme even lasting til the end of the year. I sure hope it doesn’t last long. It’s sad that instead of competing for the future by pricing for the digital age, The Times has opted to fight an inevitably doomed battle to hold on to the past.
Update / Note
Some people have inquired about why I used the New York Times most expensive plan. As described in the original piece, this is a comparison of prices for full multi-device access. For instance, I used Rhapsody’s $14.99 plan which allows 3 devices (e.g. iPhone & iPad), as opposed to their $9.99 plan that allows only one. I think that’s a fair apples-to-apples comparison of how much different providers are asking for full access. Though in case there was any doubt how out of line The Times’ pricing is, even their “NYTimes.com + Tablet App” (i.e. no phone app access) is still 25% higher than the Wall Street Journal’s all access plan.
I’ve also added the explicit names of each subscription plan below for more clarity, as well as corrected the annual Dropbox price.
SourcesHere are the prices & source links I used:
- Google - Apps for Business: $50/year
- MobileMe - Individual: $99/year
- Dropbox - Pro 50: $99/year
- Pandora - One: $36/year
- SiriusXM - Internet Radio: $12.95/month
- Rhapsody - Premier Plus: $14.99/month
- Amazon - Prime: $79/year
- Netflix - Unlimited Plan, No DVDs: $7.99/month
- Hulu - Plus: $7.99/month
- The Economist - Digital Subscription: $110/year
- The Wall Street Journal - Digital Plus: $3.99/week
- The New York Times - All Digital Access: $35/4 weeks
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