The NY Times Company announced its first quarter results—and offered news on how its NYTimes.com digital paywall is doing. So far, the Times has signed up about 100,000 subscribers (not including the subscribers through the Lincoln ads) since the 20 articles-free-then-paywall introduction three weeks ago; its press release states, "So soon after the launch, the Company does not yet have visibility into conversion and retention rates for these paying customers after the initial promotional period, although early indicators are encouraging." What's less encouraging: First quarter net income dropping 57% versus last year.
According to the NY Times (the paper), "The weakness in print advertising, coupled with an unexpected drop in revenue at About.com, led to earnings of 4 cents a share before special items are excluded, compared with 8 cents a share in the period a year ago." And the Times (the company) says the About.com issues—a 10% decrease in revenue—are due to a Google algorithm change.
Anyway, back to the digital paywall: The Times apparently had hoped to sign up 300,000 subscribers (subscriptions cost $15-35 per four week period), and Reuters' Felix Salmon says, "300,000 subscribers paying on average $200 per year (some will pay more; others will not renew every four weeks for a whole year) works out at $60 million — or less than 20% of the NYT’s digital advertising revenues. It’s a big enough number that I can certainly see why the NYT spent a long time considering this move. But it’s not so big as to be a no-brainer." But he's doubtful the Times can get to 300,000.