Are you paying too much for the NYT?

The New York Times has introduced three new digital subscription tiers in recent months — and added new benefits to others. So it’s a good time to reevaluate which price point and products are right for you. You might be surprised to find out you’re paying too much for your Times subscription.

I was still under the impression that my Sunday print subscription was the cheapest way for me to also get all the digital benefits I wanted (Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton wrote about this print subsidization phenomenon a few years back). But it turns out I can get every digital product I actually use for a couple fewer bucks per week — if I’m willing to give up the physical newspaper.

Comparison shopping is tough due to the wide range of subscription options and the confusing introductory/promotional rates that never last as long as you want them to. But here are the digital-only options available:

— NYT Opinion ($1.50 per week): You get unlimited access to the NYT Opinion app for iPhone (which also curates opinions from other sources) and opinion content online. Perfect for the cheapskate opinion junkie, who the Times is convinced exists. Mia Farrow likes it, anyway:

— Top Stories ($2 per week): Perfect for the cheapskate news junkie, this is the cheapest way to pay for any Times news content, but all you get is unlimited access to the NYT Now app (also iPhone only) and access to top stories on the Web. You’re paying for news essentials, not comprehensiveness. It’s “the most important news that’s fit to print,” not “all the news that’s fit to print.” And you also get a curated stream of stories from other news outlets selected by Times editors in NYT Now.

— NYTimes.com + Smartphone Apps ($3.75 per week):

  • Unlimited access to NYTimes.com from any device.
  • Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for iPhone®, Windows® Phone 7+, BlackBerry® 10 and Android™-powered phones.
  • The NYT Now app for iPhone®.
  • The NYT Opinion app for iPhone®.
  • Unlimited access to Today’s Paper web app for desktop.
  • Times Machine Archive- view up to 100 articles per month.
  • What We’re Reading newsletter – a weekly guide to recommended reading on the web.

— NYTimes.com + Tablet Apps ($5 per week):

  • Unlimited access to NYTimes.com from any device.
  • Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for iPad®, Kindle Fire, Windows® 8 desktop and tablet, and Android™-powered tablets.
  • The NYT Now app for iPhone®.
  • The NYT Opinion app for iPhone®.
  • The Collection app for iPad®.
  • Unlimited access to Today’s Paper web app from desktop.
  • Times Machine Archive- view up to 100 articles per month.
  • What We’re Reading newsletter – a weekly guide to recommended reading on the web.

— All Digital Access ($8.75 per week):

  • Unlimited access to NYTimes.com from any device.
  • Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for iPhone®, Windows® Phone 7+, BlackBerry® 10 and Android™-powered phones.
  • Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for iPad®, Kindle Fire, Windows® 8 desktop and tablet, and Android™-powered tablets.
  • The NYT Now app for iPhone®.
  • The NYT Opinion app for iPhone®.
  • The Collection app for iPad®.
  • Unlimited access to Today’s Paper web app for desktop and tablet.
  • Times Machine Archive- view up to 100 articles per month.
  • What We’re Reading – a weekly guide to recommended reading on the web.
  • Share your All Digital Access with a family member.

— Times Premier ($11.25 per week): All kinds of expensive benefits above and beyond what you get with All Digital Access, including insidery stories and videos, two free e-books per month and extra-special crosswords. For the real Times fanatic. It costs $2.50 per week to add it to your print subscription, which already comes with All Digital Access benefits.

So which option is right for you?

Because the $3.75 and $5 tiers give you even more bang for your buck now thanks to the inclusion of the two new iOS apps (sucks to be an Android user), the $8.75 tier feels a little devalued. The extra $5 per week — or $260 per year! — it costs to go from the NYTimes.com + Smartphone Apps tier to All Digital Access only adds tablet apps and the ability to share your subscription with a family member’s account.

I mostly just use the Times website throughout the day, but I like having the NYT Now app and the comprehensive Times smartphone app when I’m commuting. I haven’t opened my tablet Times app in weeks, and I definitely never surpass the 10-article-per-month limit for nonsubscribers. So the $3.75 option seems best for me. Complicating matters, though, is that for just $5.90 I get the Sunday paper delivered to me in New York City, and I get All Digital Access along with it. That makes the decision to downgrade difficult, even though it would save me $111.80 annually. Adding Sunday print doesn’t cost all that much more — but it isn’t free.

Meanwhile, my Poynter colleague Andrew Beaujon pays more for his Sunday print subscription, $8.60, because he lives in the Washington, D.C., area. The digital products he uses most are NYT Now and the Times iPad app, both of which are included in the $5-per-week subscription. If he can detach himself from the Sunday paper (difficult because he’s a fan of the NYT Magazine), it’d be worth $187.20 in savings per year. He’d still be able to use the Times iPhone app for up to 10 stories per month, but would have to give up sharing his subscription with a family member.

If you must have access to more than 10 stories per month on the main Times smartphone app and the main Times tablet app — or you have a family member who does — then All Digital Access is still the way to go. And at $8.60, a Sunday print subscription outside New York is the cheapest way to get it, although it saves only 15 cents per week. But if you find that you’re not really using your tablet app much anymore, or that NYT Now has made the other smartphone app redundant for you, a cheaper subscription is probably a better fit for you.

The moral of the story: Check your consumption habits. The All Digital Access you thought you needed might no longer be necessary, and having a print subscription might not be the cheapest way to get the digital products you use anymore.

Will top-tier subscribers downgrade?

Sadly, a Times spokespersn said she couldn’t provide any insight into which subscription tiers are most popular among readers. But revenue from “digital-only subscription packages, e-readers and replica editions” was $40.3 million in the first quarter of 2014. The Times was up to 799,000 digital-only subscribers for that quarter, so each paid an average of about $3.86 per week.

(This is assuming digital-only subscription packages are far more popular than e-reader and replica edition subscriptions, which aren’t even promoted on the Times subscription page. Also, various promotional rates likely skew the number downward.)

That average could go down if lots of new customers are buying standalone NYT Now and NYT Opinion subscriptions, but revenue-per-subscriber could also fall if savvy existing customers realize cheaper subscriptions are good options for them, too.


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  • Benjamin Payne

    If you’re a college student or faculty member, you can qualify for the Times’ student discount through your .edu email address.

  • BernieBastinaly

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    sister woz like actualy bringing in money part-time from there pretty old
    laptop. . there aunts neighbour has been doing this 4 only about 22 months and
    at present repayed the mortgage on their appartment and bought themselves a
    Chrysler . see here M­o­n­e­y­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­