12 Comments

Summary:

The New York Times posted a familiar earnings tale of rapidly declining advertising and steady gains in digital subscriptions. The good news is that those subscription increases came even after the paper tightened its paywall.

Revenue at the New York Times Company fell once again in the third quarter due to ongoing advertising declines in both print and digital as the company posted earnings of 2 cents a share, 6 cents below what analysts had predicted. Operating profit for the quarter was $8.5 million compared to $21 million from a year ago.

Overall advertising revenue declined 8.9 percent but the company did see a bright spot in the form of a 7.4 percent increase in circulation revenues. Digital subscriptions to the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune were up 11 percent since the last quarter to a total of 566,000. The Boston Globe added 3000 new digital subscribers for a total of 26,000 at the end of the last quarter.

The numbers come at a time when the New York Times Company is looking decidedly smaller than a year ago, having divested regional papers and its interest in the Fenway Sports group. The company completed the sale of About.com in the early fourth quarter of this year.

Overall, the earnings raised the familiar questions of whether the New York Times — the flag bearer of digital newspaper hopes everywhere — can raise subscription revenues fast enough to offset declining ad revenues. The good news is that digital subscriptions are growing robustly even after the paper tightened its paywall to permit readers to see only 10 free articles a month rather than 20. The biggest area for concern appears to the weakness in digital advertising which actually fell 2 percent from a year ago.

The company will be hosting an earnings call at 11am. We’ll bring you the highlights later today.

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  1. Leszek Olszański Thursday, October 25, 2012

    Phew, I wonder how much of that increase was driven by “one dollar subscription” offer, launched in October. Many people will unsubscribe before it expires, including me ;).

    1. People were saying that about the Lincoln offer when the paper had 300k digital subs, and have been saying that about the 99c offer for several quarters, but subs are still booming.

      1. If there is nothing to hide, why is the NYT (“All the News Fit to Print”) so absurdly shy about breaking out its digital sub numbers (churn, number of distinct paying subs, discounted pricing, etc.)

  2. Greg Golebiewski Thursday, October 25, 2012

    Jeff it seems that the 566,000 number includes the Boston Globe with 26,000 subs, doesn’t it?

    1. Greg, I should have been clearer: the 566,000 is the NYT and IHT only. The Boston Globe counts for another 26,000

  3. @Leszek
    You seem happy about the demise of the nyt..that’s just dumb…and disturbing..

    1. The MSM papers occupied a parallel reality propped up by their oligopoly for *decades* – distorting the political judgment of the nation.

      Now that they have been economically gutted by the internet, they have “discovered” a number of issues they somehow never knew existed before – like the grotesque economics of public sector pensions (otherwise known as vote selling).

      It seems the more the MSM bleeds, the more awake they become.

      This is bad?

  4. 1) What is the monthly churn for the NYT digital subs?

    2) What is the average subscription period?

    3) Does the picket-fence paywall apply to all NYT sites (Dealbook, Economix, etc?)

    There are a *lot* of questions about the NYT “paywall success” that never seem to get answered…or asked…

  5. Another big question that I’ve never seen investigated – does the NYT turn its paywall *off* periodically, without announcing it?

    Has anyone ever “audited” the paywall (my anecdotal experience is that there are months when I *never* bump up against it, regardless of the number of stories I view).

    Since taking a hit to their very large page view count (and therefore CPM base charged against advertisers) was a *major* concern about moving to the paywall, this would seem an obvious – if corrupt – workaround.

    Since the NYT Berlin Paywall was really calculated more to keep NYT onanists in, than drive-bys out (else why the laughably easy circumvention techniques) turning the thing off periodically to goose drive-by pageviews seems like a distinctly possible strategy.

    Anybody ever ask *that* question?

  6. People will pay for journalism one way or another. They’ll either pay with a subscription or they’ll pay with increased fraud and corruption.

  7. goodnight goodluck Friday, October 26, 2012

    i used to read them for their foreign policy coverage. then they became a soundboard for the pentagon. their lead foreign correspondents behave more like cia station chiefs putting out regional analyses slanted towards US hegemony than journalists uncovering the truth.

  8. You don’t need to subscribe, turn on private browsing or remove cookies from NY Times.

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