"I was getting FB ads and emails offering NYT online for $52 a year. I got enough of them to assume it was their regular price."
The NY Times offers a $1 per week subscription for students, called the Academic Rate.
And it seems that occasionally, the NY Times offers the $1 per week subscription for everyone, but the sign-up period exists for a limited time. And after one year with the $1 per week subscription, the user account automatically switches to the normal $15 per 4 weeks cost.
For years, I have been a subscriber to the NY Times basic digital subscription.