New York Times Co. said in a survey of print subscribers that it’s considering a $5 monthly fee for access to its namesake newspaper’s Web site.
Times Co. also asked whether subscribers would be willing to pay a discounted fee of $2.50 a month for access to the site, in the poll confirmed today by Catherine Mathis, a company spokeswoman. Nytimes.com, the most visited among newspapers’ sites, is currently free.
Times Co. is contemplating additional sources of revenue as marketers slow spending on the Internet. Ad sales at the publisher’s sites, also including about.com and boston.com, fell 8 percent and 3.5 percent in the first quarter and fourth quarter of 2008 respectively. They gained 6.5 percent last year.
“The question here for consumers is the psychological barrier of now paying when you were getting it for free before, and you’re going to lose some readers as a result,” said Ken Doctor, an analyst at Outsell Inc. in Burlingame, California. “The New York Times will also have to evaluate what this means for ad rates as they lose readers.”
Times Co., based in New York, lost 11 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $4.80 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have fallen 35 percent this year.
The New York Times had an average of 647,695 weekday home delivery subscribers as of the 26 weeks ended March 29, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations data. That doesn’t include single-copy sales or third-party sales. Its site is the most visited among news sites, according to ComScore Inc. data.