'The New York Times' drops online subscription service

Two years after experimenting with subscriptions, newspaper announces all content is available free of charge.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval

The New York Times has finally given up on the Web-subscription model, announcing Monday that the newspaper's online site will no longer charge for any content.

The decision comes two years after The Times began charging $49.95 a year, or $7.95 a month, for Internet access to premium content, such as pieces by columnists and archived stories, according to a story that appeared in the paper.

The Times said that the subscription service met targets, acquiring 227,000 paying subscribers and generating $10 million a year.

Executives at the newspaper seemed to suggest in The Times' story that the reason for scratching the paid service is that the company's projections for subscriber revenue were small compared with advertising sales.

With the Times opting out of paid subscriptions, it is believed that there are no other large general news providers offering a subscription Web service. The Wall Street Journal is the only major newspaper in the country still charging for content, and parent company Dow Jones is studying whether to drop its subscription service as well.

In what might be a boon to researchers, historians and librarians, The Times also announced that the newspaper is making available online the paper's archived stories from 1987 to the present. In addition, the company is also planning to make available stories from the years 1851 to 1922.