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.