New York Times launches digital subscriptions for Cooking site

(Reuters) - The New York Times said Wednesday it will start charging users for unlimited access to its NYT Cooking site, which includes recipes from both current and former columnists, such as Melissa Clark and Mark Bittman.

FILE PHOTO: The sun peaks over the New York Times Building in New York, U.S., on August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The subscription will cost $5 per month. Currently, the NYT Cooking app offers unlimited free access to all recipes on the site. But with the introduction of the subscription, non-paying users will not be able to access a majority of the site’s recipes and will lose access to any previously saved recipes, which will be moved behind a paywall, Amanda Rottier, product director for NYT Cooking, told Reuters.

Newspapers have seen substantial declines in print advertising revenue as readers migrate to the web for content. To offset those losses, The New York Times and other newspapers are looking to leverage their digital presence.

The New York Times last month reported first-quarter print revenue was down 17.9 percent, while digital advertising revenue was up 18.9 percent and digital subscribers also grew.

The paywall is the latest of NYT Cooking’s efforts to make money from the site, which was launched in 2014 and has about 10 million users per month. In May 2016, it partnered with Chef’d, a meal kit company, to create kits for selected NYT Cooking recipes.

Rottier said the Chef’d partnership was meeting NYT Cooking’s expectations, but she declined to discuss the number of meal kit purchases.

New York Times subscribers will have full access to NYT Cooking for a limited time, though there is no timeline for when the subscriptions will be separated, Rottier said.

New registered users on the site, which offers recipes grouped by meal type, popularity and suggestions from editors, will have a 28-day free trial.

One consultant said that a NYT Cooking subscription could be a tough sell to readers who are accustomed to free content.

“The volume for food content on the web is very high and much of it is free,” said Merrill Brown, founder and principal at MMB Media, which has worked with clients such as NPR and The Washington Post.

Rottier declined to comment on how many subscribers are expected in the initial launch.

NYT Cooking subscribers will be able to use all of the site’s recipe box tools, such as private notes and adding recipes from third parties. The site is exploring ways to integrate voice-activated devices such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, Rottier said.

Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Anna Driver and Leslie Adler