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The New York Times paywall and the Dallas Morning News

As I think everyone here knows, the Dallas Morning News has recently instituted a paywall on their website. A poll we did here recently indicated that 95% of LSB readers are now unable to access DMN content behind the paywall.

I've seen quite a few complaints about the logistics of the signup and subscription system, and I'm still not entirely clear how much it costs to subscribe to just the digital version of the DMN without the iPad and iPhone stuff.

In any case, the New York Times is also going to a paywall model, but with some key differences from the DMN's model that seem to make it more affordable and more reader-friendly:

Digital subscriptions are rolling out now in Canada and will start in the U.S. on March 28. There will be three options; all plans provide unlimited access to, but differ in regards to smartphone and tablet access.

The Plus smartphone app will cost $15 per month and provides unlimited access to, as well as unlimited access from BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android-powered devices.

The Plus tablet app will cost $20 per month and will provides unlimited access, as well as unlimited access to the paper's iPad app, and the Times Reader 2.0 and NYTimes App for the Chrome Web Store.

Finally, the All Digital Access plan, which will run $35 per month, provides unlimited access to the Web site and all smartphone, tablet, and Web-based apps.

* * *

For those who don't want to subscribe, the Times will offer 20 free articles per month - including blogs, slide shows, video, and other multimedia features. As you reach your limit, pop-ups will appear on the site. The paper will also provide unlimited access to the home page, section fronts, blog fronts, and classifieds. Those who comes to the Times via links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read the articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. Some search engines will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.

So, why write about this on a Rangers blog? Because I want to read about the Rangers on the DMN website, but I don't want to pay what the DMN is charging in order to do so. And the DMN doesn't offer a la carte pricing, so I have to pay the same amount under the current structure just to read Evan Grant as someone who reads every article on every subject.

My guess is that the Times model is going to end up setting the market, in several ways. First, whatever the New York Times charges likely will be the ceiling for other papers...the DMN is going to have a hard time justifying charging as much as, or more than, the New York Times for the content the DMN provides.

Secondly, though, the fact that you can read a handful of articles for free, and can follow social media links without subscribing, makes their model much more likely to generate views than what the DMN is doing.

I think the reality is that expecting to get everything for free online isn't realistic -- over the next few years, I suspect most newspapers will either impose some sort of pricing structure on their web content or go out of business. But if the DMN and Star-Telegram opt to follow the model the New York Times is rolling out right now, rather than what the DMN is doing at this point, it seems a lot more likely that we'll be able to have access to that content.