Good news for journalists, editors and newspapers: The New York Times‘ paywall seems to be working. After a year and a half, the paywall has helped boost the paper’s subscription dollars. For the first time, paper and paywall subscriptions from will exceed the money made from advertising, Bloomberg reports.
Since the Times installed its paywall in March 2011, journalists and bloggers have disputed its value. Amidst an ever tightening budget noose publishers argued that they cannot give away free content, while the blogger crowd purported that paywalls turn off readers who are accustomed to receiving free content on the Web.
Digital subscriptions will generate $91 million this year, accounting for 12 percent of total subscription sales, which totalled about $768 million. Print subscriptions continued to slip this year, but online readership increased 11 percent since last June. Web readership may soon rival print subscriptions if the trend continues.
Still, this all comes in the context of dropping revenue from advertising. Annual ad dollars have fallen for five straight years, and Techdirt argues that subscribers can’t solve all the paper’s financial troubles:
Even if you think the NYT’s paywall should be judged a “success” it doesn’t change the fact that its revenue continues to drop (and not just its print revenue — digital revenue is struggling too). Perhaps the paywall may have limited the revenue collapse, but it has done little to create a new and sustainable business model.
There’s more to that argument, but even skeptics have to admit that the paywall experiment is far from the total disaster once predicted.
More from Smithsonian.com: