NYT company reports 668,000 digital subscribers as of the fourth quarter

The New York Times Co. | The New York Times
Advertising revenue was down and circulation revenue was up at the New York Times company in the fourth quarter of 2012. The company announced its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings Thursday. Its digital businesses are adding customers, with 668,000 paid digital subscribers company-wide.

Paid subscribers to The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune digital subscription packages, e-readers and replica editions totaled approximately 640,000 as of the end of the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase of approximately 13 percent since the end of the third quarter of 2012. Paid digital subscribers to BostonGlobe.com and The Boston Globe’s e-readers and replica editions totaled approximately 28,000 as of the end of the fourth quarter of 2012, up approximately 8 percent since the end of the third quarter of 2012.

Advertising revenue was down 3.1 percent over the same period in the previous year. Circulation revenue was up 16 percent.

The trajectory of both revenue streams means, “The past year marked the first time that circulation revenue surpassed advertising revenue,” the Times reported. “Circulation revenue grew by 10.4 percent, to $952.9 million, mainly from the growth in digital subscriptions and the rise in print circulation prices. Advertising for the year declined 5.9 percent, to $898.1 million.”

The Times’ third-quarter earnings report showed an unpleasant drop in revenue. The report showed a rise in digital subscriptions but a drop in advertising, a trend the company expected to continue in the fourth quarter. The Times’ stock has yet to rise to its pre-3Q report levels.

In 2012 the Times sold its remaining ownership shares in the group that owns the Boston Red Sox as well as its star-crossed content farm About.com.

How are things at the Boston Globe?

Circulation revenue and revenue from the New England Media Group’s commercial printing business were up in the fourth quarter. For the year, though, circulation revenue rose but a tenth of a percent over 2011 in New England, which also includes results from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Advertising revenue was down 6 percent for the year, and printing revenue was up 20 percent. The company prints the competing Boston Herald as well as its own paper.

Thompson takes over

It also hired a new CEO, Mark Thompson, who began his tenure as Times CEO last November, amid reports his office at the BBC had bungled a response to reports of a sexual predator within the network’s ranks.
Thompson is charged with creating a digital strategy for the company.

“The demonstrated willingness of users here and around the world to pay for the high quality journalism for which The New York Times and the company’s other titles are renowned will be a key building block in the strategy for growth, which we are currently developing and which I will have much more to say about later in the year,” Thompson told the paper.

Analysts will be watching today’s planned earnings call, scheduled for 11 a.m. ET, for details.

Related: What dismal earnings at The New York Times mean for the newspaper industry (from last October)

The Times’ 2012 earnings reportsNew York Times 1st quarter earnings beat expectations | New York Times Co. increases digital subscriptions by 13 percent in second quarter | Digital subscriptions up 11 percent at New York Times company, but revenue slips

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