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The New York Times announced Tuesday that it will cut back the number of articles that can be viewed free a month from 20 to 10, starting in April.
The New York Times' paywall became harder to scale on Tuesday, as the company announced that it was decreasing the number of articles a nonsubscriber can read a month from 20 to 10, The Examiner reported. The shift will be instituted as of April 1, according to Poynter.
“We think that 10 articles a month plus free access to the homepage and section fronts strikes a better balance between visiting and subscribing,” Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told Poynter in an e-mail.
The paywall restrictions, which currently limit nonsubscriber reading to 20 articles a month, will soon allow visitors to the site to read up to 10 articles for free. After that, the site will prompt the reader to sign up for a subscription. Users who follow a link from Twitter, Facebook, or blogs can go over the 10-article limit as many times as they want, according to Mashable.
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Many readers use that exception to get around the paywall altogether. A Twitter account called @freeNYTimes, for example, exclusively tweets links to Times articles, Mashable reported. The New York Times asked Twitter to disable the account, but dropped the request after it stopped using the paper's logo.
The Times unveiled its digital subscription model a year ago, and the New York Times Media Group currently has about 454,000 paying digital subscribers across its various online products, according to Media Daily News.
“I think what’s happened is that papers have learned that if you do a pay system wisely, you can do it without losing digital advertising,” Ken Doctor, a senior analyst at publishing consulting firm Outsell Inc., told MarketWatch.
Traffic to nytimes.com, meanwhile, has been flat since the Times implemented the paywall, Murphy told Poynter. The site had 48.463 million unique visitors worldwide in January 2011; in 2012, there were 47.944 million.
“The traffic on our site has much more to do with the news cycle,” Murphy told Poynter.
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