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It's not free. NYT relies on a subscription model.

The mini-crossword is free as well as some of their full crosswords.

Some. I actually cancelled my subscription with them because of the horrendously large Google Home ads on all the paid crosswords. When I asked them about it I got about four non-answers — it's ridiculous that even if you pay they still serve you ads.

Newspapers have always included ads even if you pay; not sure why anyone would expect “on the internet” to change that.

Because I pay specifically for only the crossword part. I bought a book of 50 (of NYT puzzles) for the same price, and it came with no ads. Much better deal, if you ask me.

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