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WaPo’s Online Newspaper Revs Turn Sharply Up, But Ask Later About Newsweek

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In its next to last quarter as the owner of Newsweek, the Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO) isn’t releasing details about the magazine’s performance in Q2, though it did likely improve slightly based on the most recent Publishers Information Bureau figures, which showed ad pages up 2.9 percent. There was a hint of how bad things were for the mag: For the first six months of 2010, WaPo reported $9 million in discontinued operations, which was what Newsweek was counted as (in Q2, the discontinued losses were $2.3 million). Elsewhere, WaPo did have a lot more details about the mixed picture at its newspaper division and its healthy online ad growth.

Retail and classified advertising continues to be weak for the Washington Post. During the quarter, revenues for the newspaper division were up a mere 2 percent, while for the first six months of the year, revenues dipped about 0.4 percent. All of that is better than it was last year, but not a great turnaround.

But on the online side, things were looking a lot better, as revenues surged 14 percent. Considering the fact that online newspaper revs, which also include declined 9 percent in Q209, this certainly can be counted as a victory. However, the numbers for online remain small and the good showing in Q2 wasn’t enough to spare Slate’s business-focused spin-off, The Big Money, which was shuttered last week as an independent site and folded into Slate.

As for Newsweek, which was sold this week to audio equipment impresario Sidney Harman, the company’s earnings release states that the “gain or loss” at the closing of the transaction were not significant to the company’s overall performance, which has increasingly been driven by the Kaplan Education division and its cable TV holdings. In the case of the huge rise in profits, that was largely due to the $56 million in expenses recorded in Q209 for an early retirement program at the newspaper division.

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