The Times tempts new subscribers with the offer of a £50 Nexus 7 tablet

The Times Nexus 7The Daily will publish its final issue this month after News Corporation bigwigs decided to pull the plug on the original iPad-only newspaper, proving it’s not easy to sell subscriptions to enhanced print-style media to a digital audience. Newspapers and magazines need to find alternative methods to attract new audiences, and The Times has come up with an interesting twist of its own.

The Times has always been open to trying new methods of improving its digital readership numbers, and was one of the first to produce a cross-platform, web app for use outside the iTunes App Store, when Apple was turning the screws on publications with its controversial subscription rates. This time, it has edged away from Apple’s abode and set up home on Android, offering a cut price Nexus 7 to those who take out an 18-month subscription to the newspaper.

As the Nexus 7 is already cut price, The Times knew it needed a big discount to capture our attention — so how does £50 ($80) sound for the 32GB model? That’s £150 ($240) cheaper than the tablet’s retail cost, but to get that price you need to sign-up for the 18-month subscription, which costs £17.33 ($28) per month. Alternatively, if you don’t mind paying up front, the deal gets even sweeter, as you can get the whole package — the 32GB tablet and an 18-month Times Digital Pack subscription — for £299 ($490). That saves more than £50 on the pay-monthly deal, and more than £200 ($322) if everything was purchased separately.

New approach to an established sales method

The Times Tablet Edition for Android was updated late last month, making this the right time for such an offer, as not only will it provide the new app with important coverage, but it makes a decent Christmas present too. Sadly, the reviews currently posted on Google Play for the app aren’t very positive, with many users complaining of poor performance.

The Times’ subsidization of the Nexus 7 isn’t really anything new, and is similar to both Google and Amazon’s approach with its tablet sales, which are priced low to attract consumers who then buy content. Other newspapers and magazines have used similar tactics before too. UK network O2 offered a 10 month free subscription to the Telegraph when customers signed up for a tablet-friendly data-only micro-SIM plan, and earlier this year Barnes & Noble offered a one-year subscription to the New York Times with discounted versions of the Nook Color, Nook Simple Touch and Nook Tablet.

So, how will the offer do? According to Tom Whitwell, Editorial Director of Times Digital, who tweeted that the promotion is already off to a “very strong start.” While he would say this, it’s difficult to think of many other deals as tantalizing as this one, particularly because The Times’ Digital Pack subscription covers daily editions of the newspaper, phone and website access too, plus the Nexus 7 is one of the most popular gadgets available at the moment. Tempted?