Do you want to pay for recipes online? Probably not, but The New York Times thinks consumers will.
Last week it announced it will ask new subscribers to the paper to pay $5 per month for access to the 180,000 or so recipes on its online recipe database and companion app. Subscribers will also get videos, how to and seasonal content. Current newspaper subscribers get free access.
“The work we do is expensive, and we want to do more of it,” Sifton writes as justification. The Times probably has to pay for recipe developers, photographers, web people, techy app people, video makers, assistants, maybe recipe testers and social media people too.
You know, kind of like what food bloggers do as one-person shops?
The question is whether consumers will pay for what’s already free.
A major competitor got in a few licks about whether anyone would do so. “Not to mention, it takes only a little Google-fu to find recipes that are ‘adapted from’ or ‘inspired by’ whatever recipe you’re looking to find,” snarked Karen Lo on Food52, which crowdsources free recipes from amateurs through contests. They, along with Epicurious, Serious Eats, FoodNetwork, TheKitchen, Leites Culinaria, and Allrecipes put out a ton of free recipes online and make money by other means, mostly from advertising or selling products.
What Lo also implied is that the NY Times recipes are not original, anyway. Like anyone cares. Of course, neither are most of Food52’s. Don’t get me started on what is original and what is not, and how many recipes are adapted.
An NPR Marketplace reporter called me to ask who else gets people to pay for recipes. I could only think of subscription services begun by entrepreneurs such as Six O’Clock Scramble and Nourished Kitchen. And remember when cookbook author Marcy Goldman tried selling recipes for $2.49 each in 2011? That didn’t work too well, but the subscription services I mentioned bring in six figures annually.
The NY Times’ $60 per year boils down to the price of two new cookbooks. Of NYT Cooking’s 10 million readers, only 840,000 are Times subscribers. That leaves 9 million+ readers to solicit. Even if only 10 percent subscribe, that would bring in a nice piece of change, around $54 million. You have to understand that Google and Facebook take an astonishing 65 percent of online advertising income. Newspapers are looking to consumers to make up some of the lost income.
What do you think? Will consumers pay for NY Times recipes? Are NY Times recipes so superior that they are worth the money? Or will people subscribe for some other reason?