Laptop with TIME logo on red background on a desk in an office

TIME to Bring Down Time.com Paywall June 1

The 100-year-old company will bring down Time.com paywall to make their journalism more accessible to all.

TIME’s paywall is about to come tumbling down. Last week, TIME CEO Jessica Sibley announced they are bringing down the Time.com digital paywall effective June 1. Readers will be able to access the 100-year-old news magazine’s digital content on Time.com and a century of archives for free. Time.com has had a paywall in one form or another since 2011. Sibley made the announcement at their 17th annual TIME100 Gala.

“At TIME, our mission is to provide trusted, quality storytelling about the people and ideas shaping our world, and to ensure that information is accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of geographic location or socioeconomic status,” said Sibley. “We fundamentally believe that access to trusted information is a global imperative and should be available to all of humanity.”

A new chapter for 100-year-old TIME

Sibley said that TIME is starting a new chapter, so they want to expand free access to Time.com, which is the largest U.S. print news title that reaches more than 105 million readers globally. Sibley said their goal is to “work in the service of truth and progress as humanity’s trusted guide.”

Part of this means digital inclusion to eliminate barriers and to reach audiences around the world. Hans Vestberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon, has supported TIME in bringing down the Time.com paywall.

“It is a human right to be connected,” Vestberg said.

Vestberg’s goal is to get 1 billion of the world’s most marginalized people connected by 2025.

“As a long-time digital inclusion advocate, it’s great to see TIME’s efforts to advance and democratize access to trusted information. From my vantage point running one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, I’m a believer in the power of leaders and businesses coming together to find solutions that allow all to participate in the digital economy – and TIME’s latest move is evidence of that,” said Vestberg.

Screenshot of Time.com Home Page, May 2, 2023

TIME’s audience and business model

According to Axios, TIME has 1.3 million print subscribers and 250,000 digital subscribers. They also have a social media following of over 51 million on six different platforms. The digital content on Time.com will remain free, but TIME will continue to charge for print subscriptions and a paid digital version of the print publication through sources including Amazon Kindle, Apple News and the App Store. Subscribers to Time.com content will be notified first, and they will no longer be required to pay to access content after the paywall comes down.

Axios reports that Sibley’s decision to bring down the paywall is a business decision as well as an editorial one. She and new editor-in-chief Sam Jacobs want to reach younger, more diverse audiences, and removing the paywall eliminates a barrier for many potential readers. From a business standpoint, TIME will diversify revenue streams by focusing on licensing and events, while also experimenting with different subscription strategies, says Axios.

Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne acquired TIME and Time.com from Meredith Corp in 2018 for $190 million in cash. Originally started in 1923, TIME now consists of a website, magazine, TIME Studios, live events, an in-house branded content studio, a climate action platform, a recommendations and ecommerce platform, and a customer-experience platform.

Insider Take

The newspaper and magazine landscape has changed so much in the last decade with many publishers moving to the paywall model, whether it is a hard paywall or a metered paywall. With some form of paywall for Time.com for the last 11 years, This reversal is a new twist, but it is consistent with TIME’s desire to be more inclusive and reach new digital audiences. If the company has a broad enough product and service mix to be profitable without digital subscription dollars, then this experiment could set a new standard for global news outlets.

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