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The New York Times wants to save itself by becoming like Netflix

Wired contributor Gabriel Snyder says it’s all about one big subscription now.

New York Times' Quarterly Profits Falls 58 Percent Ramin Talaie / Getty Images

You probably know someone who makes sniping remarks like: Old media is dying! They were too stupid to notice the internet! They’re snobs and stuck in the past!

The real story is much more complicated, journalist Gabriel Snyder said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. In the latest issue of Wired, Snyder wrote about how one of the highest-profile media companies in the world, the New York Times, is “claw[ing] its way into the future.”

“The reason old media companies have so much trouble adapting is not because they don’t know what to do or even that they should do it, it’s [that] the internal politics of it are so difficult to navigate,” Snyder said. He noted that career advancement at the NYT is a “slow-moving treadmill” that rewards loyalty over fresh ideas.

And that’s not to mention the more obvious, public face of the newspaper’s struggle: Where the money comes from.

“Even today, the vast majority of the revenue comes from old streams at the New York Times,” Snyder said. “It comes from the print circulation, even their print advertising. The industry fell off a cliff last year, but it still generates a lot of money. You can’t just turn that off, and if you do, it’s at your peril.”

The NYT initially tried to convince readers to subscribe to separate products based around opinion columns, daily news, crosswords and cooking, but each of those was met with “varying levels of un-success,” Snyder said. So, instead, it’s now thinking it can emulate the Netflix, HBO or Amazon subscription model — packing more and more into one subscription product to increase its perceived value.

“I think that’s what they’re thinking about the opportunity in the digital space right now,” Snyder said. “When they make a cooking app, or they just bought The Wirecutter, which is a gadget reviews site, that they can roll services like that into their subscription. They’re not trying to convince you just to pay for foreign and political coverage, but also because you like to be able to save recipes on the cooking app.”

You can listen to Recode Media in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge's Lauren Goode, answers all of the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
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If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. Tune in next Thursday for another episode of Recode Media!

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