NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
The New York Times is set to start charging readers for some of its online content that had previously been available for free.
The New York Times (Research) announced late Monday that it will offer a package of online content known as TimesSelect for $49.95 a year. The service will be provided free to subscribers of the paper's print edition.
The new offering, which is set to start in September, will provide access to op-ed and sports columns, as well as its archives of past stories. The paper has long charged for archived articles, but not for columns.
TimesSelect readers will also get early access to articles that will appear in sections such as real estate, The New York Times Magazine, travel and Sunday arts. The service will also offer some exclusive online content, including audio and photo essays, video and podcasts that can be downloaded and played on digital media players. E-mail news alerts, which the paper already sells separately, will also be bundled into the new service.
The paper's statement said most of the news, features and photos on NYTimes.com will remain free and available to any Web user.
The company said that its online operations have been profitable since 2001. It said the digital unit's three business goals have been profitability, scale and revenue diversification. By selling some of the content through subscriptions, the company is meeting its goal of revenue diversification, it said.
"By keeping the majority of the site free, we will continue to scale the business through strong advertising growth," said a statement from Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president of digital operations.
The most recent Web usage statistics from tracking firm Nielsen shows that the NYTimes.com is the No. 6 most frequently visited news site on the Web, with an average of 10.4 million readers in April. NYTimes.com readers spend some of the greatest amount of time reading its site, though, an important measure for Web advertisers.
Nielsen reports NYTimes.com readers spent an average of 43.7 minutes in April. That puts it No. 2 among the most popular news sites behind only the Fox New site. The Fox site has just over half the readership of the NYTimes.com but has its readers spending an average of 45.1 minutes.
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