Turf war over at the New York Times over iPad pricing

Tue, Feb 16, 2010


It’s a good thing the iPad won’t begin shipping for a few more weeks because it appears that there are still a few wrinkles to work out regarding how subscriptions for the New York Times will operate on the iPad.

According to Gawker, there is currently a turf war going on inside the New York Times over how the digital version of the paper should be priced.

On one side, a Times source explains, you have print circulation, which thinks it should control the iPad since it’s just another way to distribute the paper. They’d like to charge $20 to $30 per month for the Times‘ forthcoming iPad app, basically the product already demonstrated on stage with Steve Jobs, the source said. Why so much? Because they’re said to be afraid people will cancel the print paper if they can get the same thing on their iPad…

On the other side, you have the Times‘ digital operation, which is pushing to charge $10 per month for the iPad edition and is said to be up in arms over print circulation’s pricing. The digital side will provide interactive content for the iPad no matter what happens, but does not want print circulation to have control of pricing, marketing and other facets of the product. It’s something of an uphill battle since print circ has had control of other e-editions, for example for the Kindle, which are also seen on the digital side as overpriced.

$30 a month comes out to only $1 a day for the NYT, which on its face is more than reasonable, but the people on the print circulation side of the coin are delusional if they think that pricepoint will do anything to attract new subscribers.

The ongoing dispute at “the paper of record” has reportedly migrated all the way up to the upper echelons of the Times, with top employees now trying to make an executive decision on the issue.

From our point of view, the New York Times is sitting on something potentially big here, and they might miss out on a golden opportunity if they try and make a quick buck at the expense of attracting subscribers. $10 a month is nothing, and is affordable enough to attract a demographic of readers who might not typically subscribe to the Times.

But it’s almost as shocking that the Times Company is having a discussion over this question at all. Really? You’re going to ruin this little gift from Steve Jobs? You’re stillnot sure if you’re ready to commit to this internet thing? Sigh.




1 Comments For This Post

  1. chano Says:

    Did the dinosaurs protest as the asteroid approached?
    Did the film division at Kodak call the shots on change as digital made big market gains?
    The newspapers grew more profitable by abandoning typesetters and going digital. Now they have little time to decide that print must go on the back burner as old technology going the way of dinosaurs, film and typesetters and concentrate on learning how to use digital distribution in ways that appeal to existing and potential new readers. They have to ask the question ‘If the news is free almost everywhere today, why would a 2010 reader want to subscribe to eTimes?’
    If the print guys are allowed to call the shots on iPad pricing, you might as well start shutting down the Times today. It will be nearing death before the iPad launches.

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