New York Times to develop more products beyond news subscriptions

(Reuters) - The New York Times Co plans to develop two or three new standalone digital products next year focused on lifestyle topics as part of its push to get more people to pay for its content beyond traditional news, a senior executive told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: People line up for taxi across the street from the New York Times head office in New York, U.S., on February 7, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

The 166-year-old newspaper’s revenue has been cut in half over the last decade as print advertising moves online, and the Times is trying to make up for the loss with new efforts to attract digital subscribers.

As part of that strategy, the Times is considering 10 to 15 areas including parenting, wellness, beauty and fashion where it can offer separate products, said Alex MacCallum, recently appointed head of the Times’ new products and ventures division, in an interview with Reuters.

Of those, two or three will begin development next year, she said.

The plans follow the introduction of a digital subscription for unlimited access to its crossword puzzles for $6.95 per month, and the June launch of a $5 per month NYT Cooking subscription.

The mini-subscriptions are designed to appeal to readers who only want access to certain features. The Times’ All Access subscription, which includes all the Times’ content including NYT Cooking and crosswords, costs $27 per month. Basic unlimited news access is $16 per month.

MacCallum said the Times will test the new products as part of a bundle with the news subscription, which it already does with NYT Cooking and Crossword.

Persuading subscribers to upgrade to the higher-priced bundle is a good strategy for the Times, said Craig Huber, media analyst with Huber Research. NYT Cooking and Crossword subscriptions on their own are not enough to significantly increase the Times’ revenue, he said.

NYT Cooking had 23,000 subscribers as at Sept. 24, enough to explore adding more standalone subscription products, Times Chief Executive Mark Thompson told investors on a call earlier this month. Crossword added 26,000 subscribers during the third quarter, for a total of 332,000.

The digital paywall strategy emphasizes the gap between national publications with resources to experiment - such as the Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal - and regional papers with smaller budgets, Huber said.

(Corrects to show New York Times will develop standalone products next year, not necessarily introduce subscriptions)

Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Bill Rigby