The paidContent 50: The Most Successful Digital Media Companies In The U.S.

27. New York Times

New York Times

U.S. 2010 digital revenue: $390 million

Snapshot: The New York Times’ digital revenue — which currently comes from online advertising at its newspaper websites, as well as — accounted for 16.2 percent of the company’s revenue in 2010, up from 13.8 percent in 2009. That’s in line with other major newspaper publishers, such as Gannett, which says it generates about 18.1 percent of its sales from digital sources. The company’s About Group, which it purchased five years ago, accounts for a third of its digital sales, but that unit’s revenue ominously decreased during the most recent quarter because of lower cost-per-click and display ad sales.

Key digital move in 2010: The New York Times said in January it had decided to charge users who access its flagship paper online, explaining it wanted to diversify its revenue and make it less susceptible to economic downturns. Executives have said their metered approach — which will allow many users to still access articles online for free — is carefully calibrated to minimize any drop in ad dollars, while providing a new stream of subscription revenue.

The plan went into effect in the U.S. earlier this week — and its success or failure will be closely watched by other newspaper companies, many of whom are testing ways to charge their own readers for online access.

How we generated our estimate: New York Times Co. said its digital revenue in 2010 was $387.3 million, up 14.8 percent from the prior year.