New York Times Co. increases digital subscriptions by 13 percent in second quarter

The New York Times Co. | The Boston Globe | WWD
Circulation revenues at The New York Times Co. rose 8 percent in the second quarter, fueled by a 13 percent rise in the number of digital subscriptions at The New York Times and The Boston Globe.

Still, the company reported a $143.6 million operating loss for the second quarter, which it attributed to a $194.7 million non-cash charge for the decreased value of The site’s traffic (and its ad revenue) dropped after Google changed its search algorithm a couple of years ago.

There are now 509,000 paid digital subscribers for the Times and the International Herald Tribune, up about 12 percent from the 454,000 reported three months ago. The Globe now has 23,000 digital subscribers, up about 28 percent from the 18,000 reported in March.

The Times is outpacing the expectations of Poynter business analyst Rick Edmonds, who questioned in April how long it could post big gains in digital subscribers. He wrote that he’d consider 500,000 or so subscribers by next March a “solid performance.”

The company attributes its subscription gains to its decision to “move the gate” on the number of stories a user can access without a digital subscription, from 20 to 10. It said it expected circulation gains in the “mid- to high-single digits” for the third quarter, due to digital subscriptions and higher prices for print products.

Companywide, circulation revenue gains offset advertising losses. Print advertising revenue at the Times and the International Herald Tribune was down 6.9 percent and its circulation revenue was up 10.6 percent. Total digital advertising revenue for all Times Co. websites was down 4 percent.

Analysts expected earnings of 13 cents per share. Minus the About Group writedown and other charges, the company said, earnings were 14 cents per share.

Meanwhile, in New England…

The New England Media Group, which publishes The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, posted a 0.5 percent drop in total revenue over the same period a year before.

Advertising revenue was down 5.3 percent, circulation revenue was down 1.9 percent, and other revenue, which includes the company’s commercial printing and direct mail advertising services, was up 28.2 percent. The Globe began printing the rival Boston Herald in January.

In other New York Times news, it reported 133 ad pages in the September issue of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, while The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ reported 62.

In May, the Times Company sold for $63 million its remaining stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Liverpool Football Club and the Boston Red Sox, among other holdings. At the time of the sale, the company said in an SEC filing that it expected a pre-tax gain of $38 million in the second quarter from the sale.

New New York Times CEO by September?

In reporting the earnings, the Times’ Amy Chozick writes:

A person familiar with the company’s thinking, who could not discuss private meetings publicly, said the board had made significant progress on the chief executive search and could announce a successor as early as September.

Previously: New York Times 1st quarter earnings beat expectations

Correction: This story originally misreported the percentage gain in the number of digital subscriptions at The New York Times.

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  • cas127

    I continue to be puzzled by the NYT’s picket-fence paywall’s reported continuing success.

    Despite the reported lowering of the gate (# of free articles) it seems to me that NYT is easier to access than it has been for awhile (am I click-linking almost exclusively?  I don’t think so – and I hit those “most popular/recommended for you” internal links a *lot*).

    I’m aware that the NYT picket fence is really more Berlin Wall (meant to keep the benighted subjects *in* – and paying for paper-based subscriptions) than Great Wall (meant to keep the internet cruising barbarians *out* – gotta keep those uniques/page views up after all) but the continuing increases in digital subs puzzles me.

    Is the NYT breaking out more data on the digital subs than it has in the past?  Digital subscriber churn, for instance?  Breakout for “promotional” subscriptions (a la Lincoln)?  Breakout of digital subscription by length of term?

    For instance, what percentage of the digital subs are monthly subscribers – having to be renewed over and over and over again?  I don’t think the NYT has been supplying this data, has it?