2007_09_timessel.jpgAfter two years in service and almost as long as media gossip fodder, Times Select, NYTimes.com's service that offered access to the rich archives of the New York Times through a paid subscription modeled, is officially dead. The service put certain current online content behind the Times Select wall, such as columns by Op-Ed writers, and there was much criticism, even from within the Times, about restricting access the paper.

There had been rumors about the decision for weeks, and now the Times explains the shift as being prompted by the realization that they can make more money from advertising revenue by opening up the archives than from the $7.95 a month/$49.95 a year service. NYTimes.com senior VP and general manager Vivian Schiller said, "“What wasn’t anticipated was the explosion in how much of our traffic would be generated by Google, by Yahoo and some others." The Times now expects a bump in traffic with demise of Times Select.

Here are some Times Select facts and figures from the press release:

TimesSelect was launched in September 2005 and, two years later, had approximately 787,400 active subscribers. Approximately 471,200 received TimesSelect free of charge as a benefit of their home-delivery subscriptions, while 227,000 paid for online access and another 89,200 received it for free on college campuses through TimesSelect University. During its tenure, TimesSelect provided exclusive online access to news and opinion columnists, including all the Op-Ed columnists appearing in the print version of The Times.

In addition, TimesSelect gave readers unlimited access to The Times archives dating back to 1851, placing The Times's daily chronicles from the past at the touch of a mouse.

This content, including columns, articles, blogs, videos, podcasts and audio recordings, as well as online research and storage tools like News Tracker and Times File and archival access back to 1987, will now be freely available at NYTimes.com. Many of these benefits did not exist on NYTimes.com prior to TimesSelect.Archival access between 1851 and 1922 will also be freely available. Archives for the years 1923 - 1986 are available to be purchased in single or 10-article packages.

Home delivery subscribers to The Times, who received TimesSelect as part of their print subscriptions, will have the same unrestricted access to the site that other readers will have, but will also have access to the complete Times archives from 1851 to the present.

The newly opened areas will be sponsored by advertisers, the first being American Express.

What do you think of the news? Did you use Times Select, or were you counting the days till it went away?