To goose subscriber growth, The New York Times plans to try a flexible meter

To goose subscriber growth, The New York Times plans to try a flexible meter

Excerpts from the article by Lucia Moses on Digiday

The New York Times is planning to introduce a dynamic paywall as it moves into the next phase of its subscription business by focusing on improving retention and reducing churn.

During the company’s third-quarter earnings call, CEO Mark Thompson said the publisher had a strong quarter, with more than 3 million digital subscriptions and 4 million subscriptions in all — the biggest gain in digital subs since the Trump bump right after the 2016 election. The growth has come at some cost, though; the average revenue per user decline 1 percent over the year-ago and prior quarter, and decreases in ARPU are expected to continue into the fourth quarter, company execs said.

That pressure mainly came from steep discounting. The Times had a $1-a-week introductory offer in place for six weeks that yielded strong subscription growth but at the expense of revenue. The Times also lowered its meter to four articles a month from five that visitors can read before hitting the paywall.

Thompson said on the call that the Times would be experimenting with introductory pricing; meter count; registration and login; and bundling in the fourth quarter and into 2019.

Hannah Yang, svp of consumer revenue at the Times, said the goal of these more sophisticated experiments into how different meter counts impact conversion was to increase signups and subscribers’ lifetime value. Unlike other publishers, the Times isn’t customizing the article level experience at an individual level but will increase the meter level for everyone at once, she told Digiday.

“We get subscribers from all different parts of the engagement funnel,” she said. “We’re sort of in the early stages of figuring out what is the right price for which group and what is the right article limit for the right group.”

Read the full article on Digiday