As NewsBusters reported earlier (here and here), the New York Times is likely to soon abandon its TimesSelect pay-subscription online service. That's hardly a surprise when you look at the numbers writes Brett Arends:
The New York Times Web site is extremely popular. According to figures tracked by Nielsen/NetRatings, nytimes.com attracted about 12.5 million readers worldwide in June, the month with the most recent data. That's a huge global audience for news, and a large multiple of the Times' print circulation.
The number willing to pay extra for access to TimesSelect?
Just 29% -- a mere 221,000. That figure has risen a miserable 8,000 since the start of the year.
Or, to put it simply, of the 12.5 million who read The New York Times online, fewer than one person in 57 has so far been willing to pay extra to read the Times' big-name columnists online. Let's allow that some of those print subscribers would pay for the service if they stopped getting the paper each morning.
The numbers still aren't very impressive.
What must make this especially galling for the newspaper establishment is that Sulzberger really isn't charging very much for access to TimesSelect. The fee, in fact, is almost insultingly low: $50 a year, or less than $1 a week.
For that you get all the editorials, guest columns and, of course, the latest musings of Dowd, Rich and the gang.
We're talking a few cents a column. Less than a stick of gum.
It isn't a lot.
But still it's finding few takers.