Impact of New Paywall on Pageviews Down Between 11-30%

After months of speculation, the paywall for The New York Times went live at 2pm on Monday, March 28th, which limits online readers (non-print subscribers) to 20 articles each month. For smartphone and tablet applications, only the top news section will remain free and access to other sections will need a subscription.

To understand the initial impact, we compared the total visits to for a 12 day period before the launch of the pay wall to the 12 days following the launch. For the majority of the days, there was a decrease in the overall visits between 5% and 15%. The one exception was Saturday, April 9th, 2011 where there was a 7% increase, likely due to visitors seeking news around the potential government shutdown and ongoing budget discussions.

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Sm Change in Total Visits NYTimes 04-09-2011.png

The effect of the pay wall has been somewhat stronger upon the total page views for the, with the same comparison of a 12 day period before the launch of the pay wall to the 12 days following the launch. For all 12 days, there was a decline in total page views which ranged between 11% and 30%.

Sm Total Pages NYTimes 04-09-2011.png

Sm Change in Total Pages NYTimes 04-09-2011.png

One caveat to the 20 article limit is to access through search engines like Google and social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. While using these sources could be a clever workaround for a reader hoping not to pay, to date there has not been a significant difference in the share of upstream traffic from both search and social networks to before and after the launch of the paywall.

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