New York Times Announced Vague Plans For Metered Charging

Likely assuming no other newspaper will still be around in 2011, the New York Times announced its engagement with the bad idea that it will begin charging readers to check out its stuff online.

The marriage occurs next year, and plans are still vague. We do know a couple things for certain: People who pay the paper’s outrageous subscription fee will be able to read for free online — and have all their friends hassle them to borrow their logins. Meanwhile, freeloaders will get an as yet undetermined amount of no-cost reading before the Times starts sticking it to them.

From an AP story on the matter:

Under the plan outlined Wednesday, the Times will adopt a ”metered” system that will allow readers to click on a certain number of stories for free each month before fees kick in. A metered system is designed to draw casual readers with free articles while getting fees from people who want to dig deeper on the site.

The fees won’t be imposed until next year, giving Times executives more time to build the system and figure out the details that are likely to dictate whether the gamble pays off. The pivotal issues include determining how much to charge and how many stories will be free each month.

If this metering thing catches on, what will be next after newspapers? My guess: the NBA will start charging you to watch its games on TV after the second quarter, movie theaters will pull out the meter after the hour mark, and NBC will start slipping you nickels to watch Leno after the monologue.

New York Times to Ask Web Readers to Pay Up in ’11 [AP, via New York Times]