The much hyped decision to charge non-subscribers to the NYTimes for content is likely to set off a firestorm. I’m a subscriber so not impacted. But if you are used to surfing the times in any volume, you are going to hit a pay-to-go forward barrier.
While metering content is generally viewed as a negative, I don’t see it that way. Publishing is a business. If the economics of the current model don’t add-up, move to a different model.
I also don’t buy that it targets their “most loyal users”. Loyalty is earned on the basis of the business you are in – these folks are in the business of monetizing great content – the value equation must cut both ways for loyalty to be established. Their loyal users are by definition aren’t just those who visit, but also pay to visit. Paying for content isn’t a “burden” it is a requirement to supporting those who craft it for you. The thesis also assumes the most loyal users aren’t also paying subscribers – like me.
I would argue that it in fact targets those too lazy, cheap or disinterested in paying for content, but enjoying it enough to visit frequently. It also underscores the value of that content online relative to print. It is also a precursor to attaching value to content in a new world of tablets, eReaders and mobile devices. Something the FT has already done on the iPhone.