Earlier this week, The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) and Scribd announced they were teaming up to provide readers with what they’re calling the “ultimate subscription bundle.” For $12.99 a month, subscribers get unlimited digital access to NYTimes.com, The New York Times Digital Archive and the The Times’ app, as well as access to Scribd’s library of more than 1 million books, audiobooks, articles, news and magazines. The subscription is available to new subscribers only, and the monthly subscription fee begins after a 30-day free trial. There is no long-term commitment, and subscribers can cancel at any time.
In a news release, the companies said they want to provide a bundled reading subscription to become “a part of readers’ everyday lives” while growing the subscription audiences for The Times and Scribd.
“We’re thrilled to be working with The New York Times to provide the ultimate reading subscription for people who want to stay well-informed and indulge in their curiosity,” said Trip Adler, CEO of Scribd, in a statement.
“Creating a bundle that benefits authors, journalists, publishers, and consumers is core to Scribd’s mission — we started with documents and added books, audiobooks, magazines and articles into our product. We’re excited to expand this model and bundle with a trusted global news organization to offer a single subscription to one of the largest libraries of content, and the best of the written word,” added Adler.
Scribd was founded in March 2007 as an open publishing platform. In October 2013, Scribd launched its first subscription reading service allowing readers monthly access to their library of books and articles for a flat subscription fee. In November 2014, Scribd added audiobooks as part of the subscription service. In December 2015, Scribd added sheet music, in November 2016, they added consumer magazines and, in May 2017, they added selected articles from The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and other news outlets.
Scribd currently has more than 750,000 subscribers, growing 50 percent in the last year. Its website draws more than 100 million unique visitors each month, and readers have read more than 150 million hours reading on the platform. As a standalone service, Scribd is available for $8.99 a month.
Russell Kern, managing director of marketing partnerships for The Times, also commented on the new relationship.
“As we continue to grow our subscription business, it’s important to show potential subscribers that New York Times reporting reaches well beyond news and politics — from Styles to Science, Culture to Climate to our investigative work. Scribd’s engaged, diverse and global audience is the precise group we are looking to introduce to Times journalism,” said Kern.
Last year, the two organizations partnered to offer an essential student bundle to give students one semester, or four months, of a subscription just like this one. After a 30-day free trial, new subscribers can take advantage of this new offer. The Times’ unlimited digital access includes its Basic Digital Access package which does not include access to the NYT Crossword or NYT Cooking apps.
This is a great opportunity for these two organizations to partner to grow their respective subscription audiences. It also provides a good value for subscribers who want news as well as entertainment, fiction and non-fiction reading. As a current subscriber to The New York Times, however, I am disappointed that I can’t take advantage of the offer, but it makes sense that some restrictions need to apply. Otherwise, they aren’t growing their base; they are cannibalizing it. More subscription-based organizations should consider bundling with other partners. This is a trend we expect to see more of.