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New York Times Metered Paywall: It's real and it's spectacular

New York Times Metered Paywall: It's real and it's spectacular

The New York Times, arguably the last great hope for quality "traditional" journalism in a Web/blog/Twitter/Facebook world, took the covers off its "metered" paywall strategy today.

It's real and it's spectacular. No really. I kinda like it. Do I think it'll work? I wouldn't bet on it. But it's probably the best attempt at just doing something by a mainstream, big-time general circulation newspaper (i.e. not the Wall Street Journal and its pay model.)

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Their strategy takes effect in Canada today (those Canadians are the NYT's guinea pigs. Ha!), and will come to the U.S. on March 28.

From the NYTimes' description of the new way of consuming its news online:

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On NYTimes.com, you can view 20 articles each month at no charge (including slide shows, videos and other features). After 20 articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site.

• On our smartphone and tablet apps, the Top News section will remain free of charge. For access to all other sections within the apps, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber.

• The Times is offering three digital subscription packages that allow you to choose from a variety of devices (computer, smartphone, tablet). More information about these plans is available at www.nytimes.com/access.

• Again, all New York Times home delivery subscribers will receive free access to NYTimes.com and to all content on our apps. If you are a home delivery subscriber, go to http://homedelivery.nytimes.com to sign up for free access.

• Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. For some search engines, users will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.

• The home page at NYTimes.com and all section fronts will remain free to browse for all users at all times.

For more information, go to www.nytimes.com/digitalfaq.

Clearly, this is a strategy that lets casual users still partake in Times content. The Times doesn't value those users as much, of course. But if you're checking out Times content more than 20 times a month, that means you're likely a believer in their product and wouldn't mind ponying up some cash to keep it coming. Or would you?

Here's how much cash we're talking about -- from the FAQ:

All digital subscription options will be available globally on March 28, 2011

An NYTimes digital subscription provides ongoing access to our digital content. We offer three options, each of which provides unlimited access to the Web site. The differences between the options are based on which smartphone and/or tablet apps are included. The options and pricing are as follows:

NYTimes.com Plus Smartphone App:* $3.75 per week (billed every 4 weeks at $15.00)

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* Unlimited access to NYTimes.com from any device

* Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for BlackBerry, iPhone and Android-powered phones

NYTimes.com Plus Tablet App:* $5.00 per week (billed every 4 weeks at $20.00)

* Unlimited access to NYTimes.com from any device

* Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for iPad, plus Times Reader 2.0 and the NYTimes App for the Chrome Web Store

All Digital Access:* $8.75 per week (billed every 4 weeks at $35.00)

* Unlimited access to NYTimes.com, plus smartphone apps and tablet apps

* Unlimited access to NYTimes.com from any device

* Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for BlackBerry, iPhone and Android-powered phones

* Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for iPad, plus Times Reader 2.0 and the NYTimes app for the Chrome Web Store

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