New York Times Co To Expand Health Coverage Online

NYT newspapers

Late last year, the New York Times (NYSE: NYT) relaunched its tech blog to add more reporters and more video — in hopes of pulling in more ad revenue. That followed an even larger buildup of its business and finance blog, Deal Book. Now, the company will be giving the same treatment to its health blog, Well.

A New York Times executive mentioned the move on the earnings call Thursday. On the call, Chief Financial Officer Jame Follo said advertisers were enthusiastic about the idea of making both the tech and health blogs more attractive to a business-to-business audience. In the case of Bits, launched last November, the company is aiming to challenge the preeminence of the Wall Street Journal’s ‘All Things D‘ among technophiles.

The call followed the release of earnings this morning that showed ongoing declines in NYT Co.’s overall revenues and profits.

On the call, Follo also pointed to a series of features designed to entice users to pay for digital content. These include one-click subscriptions in iTunes, free Kindle and Nook access for subscribers, and group accounts for corporate and educational users.

In response to analysts’ questions about the company’s announced 20% quarterly increase in digital subscribers, Follo said the total number of 390,000 included figures for online readers of the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune and The Boston Globe. About 57,000 of the subscribers came via e-readers (this figure doesn’t account for new holiday subscribers).

The new Boston Globe site, which was launched in October, has 16,000 subscribers while the IHT has about 10,000.

Follo added that while many new subscribers were offered a 99 cent introductory rate for the first month, the “conversion rate is very strong.”

The company also enjoyed its first increase in home delivery in five years. In 2012, it raised subscriber prices by 4% and newsstand prices by 50 cents.

Despite its growing online subscriber base, the NYT Co still faces significant strategic challenges as print advertising declined 7.9% from the same quarter a year ago. Analysts also expressed concern about the dismal showing of the company’s About.com unit where digital revenues fell by 25% and overall profit by 67%. Executives said the decline was due to a fall-off in prices and click-through rates and by About.com’s content being downgraded in Google’s search algorithm.

Chairman and chief executive officer Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., said the company is still in the early stages of a search to replace former CEO Janet Robinson who was fired in December.

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