New York Times website gains visitors despite paywall increased its monthly unique visitors in the U.S. by 2.3 percent from September 2010 to September 2011, Jim Roberts, assistant managing editor for digital, said at the World Editors Forum in Vienna. Such growth (up to 34 million uniques) was “incredibly surprising” given that the paper launched its metered access plan in March, Roberts said. He also told the forum that the digital subscription plan has made Times journalists feel a greater stake in the digital products. “People seem a little more willing to work on a piece of video, file early for the Web, etc. There is an overall feeling we’re creating a digital product that has value.” writer Rachel McAthy has more details and an audio interview with Roberts.  || Earlier: Why the New York Times created leaks in its paywall during Hurricane Irene | Why would anyone pay to read The New York Times online?

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  • Anonymous

    Those are fine questions Andrew. On the overall point, the Romenesko+ blog is primarily for aggregating news reported elsewhere that our audience may want to read. These are not original reporting pieces where we aim for comprehensive reporting of an issue. You’ll find those types of stories in our Media Lab blogs, our How To’s and our Top Stories.

    I see your point about checking the Times’ numbers against other sources, but also keep in mind when it comes to Web analytics that external figures from comScore and the like are only estimates. The internal numbers are the most accurate.

    You also raise a good point about the pace of growth before the paywall was implemented. That’s a fine question I’d like to know the answer to as well. But the point of this article was simply that, contrary to some expectations, the number of visitors appears to not have decreased because of the paywall. Analyzing the rate of increase, or researching everything you could want to know about the NYT web traffic, would be interesting, it’s just not what this post is for.

  • William P. Davis – BDN

    Agreed. Most news sites are at well above 20 percent a year. A 2.3 percent increase is not exactly brilliant. What were they growing at before?

  • Howard Owens

    I don’t have a hard time believing it.  Since the paywall was created, I’ve become much more likely to use multiple devices to access the site, thereby keeping my readership under 30 articles.  It started as an exercise to see if this model would work and just became a habit.  Instead of reflexively using FireFox to read the NYT, as I did before, I’ll use Chrome if I happen to already have Chrome open (I usually keep at least two browsers running at all times).  And if I haven’t gotten to the NYT yet and I think about it while I’m at lunch or breakfast, I go ahead and hit them up on the iPhone.  I also have computers at the home and the office I can use if convenient.  So on any given week, I might account for four separate unique visitors.  I’m not purposefully trying to avoid paying for the NYT — I thought I would when this scheme was announced — but it’s just too damn easy to avoid the nag in the last week of the month “You have only five articles left to read this month.”  Somebody needs to point this out before the industry gets all gaga on “NYT paywall working, visitors increase.”

  • Andrew Richardson

    Jeff, you haven’t really covered yourself in glory with this article. 

    It probably wouldn’t hurt to cite the measurements used. Are these NYTimes’ own numbers? As a journalist writing for a school that espouses quality journalism maybe you should fact check the NYTimes quoted numbers with external sources, ComScore etc?

    What would also be good would be a monthly breakdown of unique visitors before and after the paywall. A 2.3% increase year on year is less impressive if the the NYTimes was growing at 10% year on year before the paywall etc.

    If you really wanted to make this a great piece you could compare the NYTimes growth (both before and after the paywall) with other major titles growth without a paywall (HuffPo, Daily Mail etc).

    In its present state your article looks like a cut and paste from a Press Release.