I love the New York Times; have read it all my life. I remember as a young kid picking up the Sunday Times along with the milk for my parents from the corner store. According to the website, I have checked out 372 articles over the last month, so I am a “heavy consumer.”
Still I just don’t see myself paying for digital access. And yet I pay for the WSJ, FT, and the Economist. There is something about the Times that I find eminently substitutable in an internet environment. The news it breaks and the opinions it carries become the rest of the news, so despite it breaking news, I gain access to its reporting as other news outlets carry it and don’t charge for access. The WSJ (although increasing less so as it tries to become more like the New York Times) and the FT carry unique “obscure” business and financial content that others will not necessarily pick up. And the Economist is just an unmatched source of news about everything for me. But the Times does not have any such hook to get me to pay up.
I may be a sui generis freak, but I wonder if my experience says anything about content subscription business models. The Times encore attempt at a pay model will have a lot to say about the question.