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NY Times offers discounted iPad access to select customers

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When the New York Times fired up its paywall in March of this year, the pricing plans for digital-only access seemed a bit steep. As Mel pointed out, the differential for NYC paper subscribers ($6.20/week for weekday papers only) versus all-you-can-read digital access (web, iPhone and iPad at $35/4 weeks) was only a couple of bucks. By comparison, today's launch of the San Francisco Chronicle iPad app pegs monthly iPad access at only $5.99.

Fortunately for longtime NYTimes.com readers, there was an exception. About 200,000 heavy users of the site received special iPhone/web access offers courtesy of Lincoln, giving them free access to the iPhone app and the site through the rest of 2011. While this didn't include content for the iPad app, it was certainly a great deal.

That was the lure, and here comes the line. Participants in the Lincoln-sponsored deal have been getting emails with an upsell offer, and it's a doozy: $35 for full digital access (iPhone, web and iPad) through the rest of 2011. That's about 1/8th the cost of a full digital subscription plan. Once signed up, you get the full paper on your iPad (including all your favorite columnists and New York stories) along with the iPhone and web versions. Watch out, though; the price goes back up to $8.75 a week at the end of the year.

It may be that the Times is trying to zero in on the optimal pricing arrangement for digital customers by bracketing at the high end and the low end, but regardless of the market rationale this is a pretty sweet deal -- if you're eligible.

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