The New York Times can’t live on news alone, so it’s turning to bread.
The Times is launching a new subscription service for its cooking vertical, the most recent in a series of experiments into ways to make more money from its existing content.
For $5 every four weeks, subscribers get access to NYT Cooking’s database of more than 18,000 recipes as well as premium features including the ability to save and organize those recipes and access how-to content.
The internet is facing no shortage of cooking content, but the Times is betting that it can find people who are willing to pay for NYT Cooking for the same reason they pay for the Times: quality.
“Our recipes are similar to how any of our journalists would report on any news topics and the quality that our journalists bring to any topic we cover,” said Amanda Rottier, product director for NYT Cooking.
NYT Cooking is led by food editor Sam Sifton and has grown a strong following since its launch in May 2014. The vertical now attracts 10 million unique readers per month.
Cooking is one of a series of verticals that the Times has been experimenting with as part of NYT Beta, which also runs Watching (on entertainment), Real Estate, and Crosswords, the last of which also has a standalone subscription offering.
Subscription revenue is key to the future for the Times, which hasn’t been immune to the broader issues faced by newspapers. Though digital advertising in rising, it’s not enough to offset the decline in print advertising.
Getting people to pay for news on the internet hasn’t been easy, but the Times has shown it can workparticularly under President Donald Trump. The paper has provided some of the most in-depth coverage of the Trump administration and has been rewarded with a surge in subscribers.
With its existing subscriber base, the Times has two big options for growth: Find more people willing to pay, or make more money from the people already paying.
Clay Fisher, head of consumer marketing at the Times, said the NYT Cooking subscription can help with both. He pointed to its Crosswords subscription product, which now has more than 250,000 subscribers, as something that has attracted new subscribers and been an add-on for existing subscribers.
“It compliments our core subscription bundle very well, and we’re working on how we bundle crosswords and cooking,” Fisher said. “Long-term strategically it’s going to play an increasingly larger role as we roll out these standalone products and establish their value in the core bundle itself.”
Cooking isn’t the first effort from the Times to get into a subscription food service. It paired with Chef’d to offer NYT Cooking meal kits. Rottier said that there’s no definite plans to expand on that, but that they’re looking at a variety of options to increase revenue. She pointed to BuzzFeed’s successful Tasty cookbook as a prime example.
She added that there’s also a growing focus on its products and integrating with more platforms, including voice-based systems like Alexa and Siri.
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