For The New York Times, not all digital platforms are apparently equal. The paper’s long-awaited digital subscription plan, announced Thursday, creates three pricing tiers, with smart phones and digital tablets split between two different packages, each of which also include Web content.

The plan, which begins March 28 in the U.S., limits free access to the NYTimes.com to 20 page views per month, with some exceptions including search and social media referrals.

Beyond those free page views, readers will be asked to pick a digital subscription package, which includes Web and mobile platforms:

  • $15 for NYTimes.com and smart phone app access
  • $20 for NYTimes.com and tablet app access
  • $35 for full access to smart phone, tablet and Web content

While the paper’s website will be metered at 20 page views, its mobile apps will not be metered. But, non-subscribers will be limited to articles in the Top News section.

Print subscribers will have "read anywhere" access to the paper’s content in print, Web and mobile. The Times’ offerings on e-reader devices such as the Kindle and Nook are not included in any of these packages.

As Rafat Ali pointed out in a tweet following the announcement, the cheapest available print subscription is the weekend package, which also provides full digital and mobile access:

“TIP: Buy *any* NYT print pckg, even just Sat-Sun at $12.6 month & get all access digital free. http://nyti.ms/h3kIk8 #nytdigisubs”

I asked the Times why they decided to split smart phones and tablets into different packages and spokesperson Kristin Mason answered by e-mail that the structure was based on reader studies.

“We found that readers placed different values on the various reading experiences -- smart phone, tablet and access across digital platforms -- and we are pricing our packages accordingly.”

She noted that the subscription plan was intended to grow their new digital platforms while “maintaining our large audience and robust advertising business.”