timesunionPLUS screengrabThe Times Union rolled out "timesunionPLUS" for its website Thursday, a paywall/subscriber membership program.

The paper is pitching the program as an enhancement of its current offerings. And it may include some bonus features, such as a week-in-review section and "special issue briefs from time to time on major topics of interest." But it's also a paywall.

An example: That story Thursday about DeFazio's wanting to buy the old Vanilla Bean building on 4th Street in Troy was open only to subscribers. That very much appears to be the sort of story that would have run normally on the website pre-PLUS.

Current subscribers to the TU print version get PLUS along with their subscriptions. There's also an all-digital option that's currently being offered for $1 a week. (It looks like the regular price will be $3/week.)

This is a notable moment in the Capital Region's media scene -- the Daily Gazette, Record/Saratogian, Post-Star, and the Times Union now all have some form of paywall. It's interesting to see how each outlet has set up their wall: the Gazette holds almost everything back, the Record/Saratogian and Post-Star allow a certain number of stories before hitting the wall, and the Times Union appears to be picking and choosing which items will be walled and unwalled.

People grumble about paywalls, but newspapers need to make money to stay in business. And over the last decade that's become increasingly harder as the internet -- and services native to the internet -- have steadily eaten away at newspaper revenue streams, such as classifieds, that had subsidized news for decades.

Sure, there's advertising. But the difference between what a media company makes on print ads versus online ads is huge. So something has to span the gap. And getting the people who consume your product to directly help pay for it isn't a bad idea.


It appears the TU's entire opinion page is now behind the hard paywall.

$1 per month and you've got a deal, Times Union.

Wait, are you saying the TU.com actually reports news? I thought it was just SEEN, House of the Week, and pop culture slideshows.

I get my news from AOA

I agree that we all have to realize that newspapers need to make money. Every region needs a thriving newspaper and hopefully this is step in the right direction for the TU. I never really understood why newspapers ever thought putting their paper on the web for free was a good idea.

Now the TU just has to make their website significantly less terrible. Just this week I went to their site to find an article that I saw the front page of the Capital Region section that morning and I couldn't find it. I agree with Andrew that it seems to be all that SEEN crap and other lame fluff, all in a confusing and cluttered layout.

@ Bob

No, the Opinion page is not behind the paywall, but the only link to it from the main web page is the very bottom left, small print link in the blue block of links at the bottom of the main page.

So if you access the TUplus, is the loading time quicker than the free stuff? The time it takes to load all of the ads & photos drives me nuts.

@chezjake: You're right. Thanks for pointing that out. It looks like the convoluted navigation of the online TU finally got the best of me....

If you really want to read those timesunionPLUS stories, you might try Googling the headline. I'm not saying it works, just saying you might try it.

Rob's method works for the Wall Street Journal, so it's a valid thing to try.

I was also able to access the full DeFazio's story on my phone. The "paywall" obviously needs some work.

And yeah, if they promised less ads or faster load speeds for PLUS subscribers, that would be an excellent added incentive!

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