The New York Times Co. Surpasses 7 Million Subscribers

The New York Times Co. hit 7 million subscriptions in the run-up to the presidential election, helping to offset falling advertising revenues.

Delivering the media company’s third-quarter results, new chief executive officer Meredith Kopit Levien said that The Times had about 6.9 million total subscriptions in the three months ended Sept. 30 and crossed the 7 million mark in October. This was driven by digital subscriptions, which surged by two million over the past year and 393,000 in the last quarter, pushing the total number up to 6.06 million.

“The news cycle certainly played a role, but as we are increasingly seeing with each passing quarter, so too did the breadth of our coverage and our improving ability to mean more to more people,” she continued. 

Total revenues for the third quarter decreased 0.4 percent to $426.9 million from $428.5 million in the year-earlier period. Within that, subscription revenues increased 12.6 percent to $301 million due to growth in the number of subscriptions to digital-only products such as Cooking, Games and audio products. Games and Cooking together have nearly 1.4 million subscriptions.

In contrast, print subscription revenues decreased 3.8 percent to $145.7 million, largely due to lower retail newsstand revenue. Total daily circulation declined 16 percent, while Sunday circulation was down 6.2 percent.

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“For the second quarter running, total digital revenue exceeded print revenue,” said Kopit Levien. “And for the first time, total digital-only subscription revenue exceeded print subscription revenue, making digital-only subscriptions not just the central engine of the company’s growth, but on its way to being our largest revenue stream.”

Advertising revenues, meanwhile, fell 30.2 percent to $79.3 million as companies continue to cut back on their marketing budgets amid the coronavirus pandemic. Digital advertising revenue dropped 12.6 percent to $47.8 million, while print advertising revenue decreased 46.5 percent. Digital advertising made up 60.3 percent of total advertising revenues, compared with 48.1 percent a year earlier.

The company said that print advertising revenue decreased as the COVID-19 pandemic “further accelerated secular trends, largely impacting the luxury, entertainment, media and home furnishings categories.”

Net income was $33.6 million, up from $16.4 million. Adjusted diluted earnings per share from continuing operations came in at 22 cents, compared with 12 cents in the third quarter of 2019.

Looking ahead, The New York Times Co. expects total subscription revenues to increase about 14 percent in the fourth quarter compared with a year ago, while digital-only subscription revenue is expected to increase 35 percent. Advertising revenues are estimated to decline 30 percent.

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