Caffeine-addicted New York Times fans are in luck — the paper is offering 15 free articles a day to those who surf its website while sitting in a Starbucks. This is just the latest example of how news brands are using the public’s insatiable appetite for free WiFi as a vehicle to promote their content.
Under the Times‘ Starbucks plan, which went into effect last week but was announced today, readers will be entitled to read three articles a day from each of the News, Business, Technology and Most Emailed sections. The Times will also offer three more articles from a rotating list of other sections like Sports.
The Starbucks offer comes at a time when the Times is tightening loopholes around its so-called “metered paywall” which caps readers at 10 free articles a month.
Times spokesperson, Linda Zebian, confirmed by phone that the 15 articles available through Starbucks are in addition to the 10 free monthly ones. The catch, however, is that the Times’ chooses the free Starbucks stories. It offers them on a special landing page that looks like this:
Zebian would not provide specifics about the business arrangements between the Times and Starbucks, and only noted that the Times has long sold its newspapers through the coffee chain. Most Starbucks locations across the country provide free Wi-Fi.
The Starbucks gambit is just one way that news brands are using Wi-Fi to promote and distribute their digital content. In August, the Wall Street Journal announced a plan to provide free Wi-Fi access in more than 1300 hotspots in New York and San Francisco; the only requirement is for readers to log-in to the Journal’s website. These Wi-Fi schemes provide the news companies not only with exposure, but also allow them to glean valuable customer data such as where and when readers visit their sites.
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