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The paper's bet on digital readers continues to pay off, with Q3 revenue from online subscriptions topping that brought in from print subscribers for the first time. Total revenue during the third quarter was flat, at $426.9 million, and adjusted operating profit jumped 28% year-over-year (y-o-y), to $56.5 million. The company added 393,000 digital subscribers during Q3, bringing the total of paid online readers to more than 6 million.
The pandemic has cut even deeper into ad sales, which were already falling as fewer people read the paper in print and many companies cut their marketing budgets. In Q3, advertising sales dropped 30% y-o-y to $79.3 million. Online advertising has fallen, too, despite the gains in digital readers. The decline came about largely due to a falloff in the company’s native content business, in which it creates paid articles for sponsors. As a whole, digital advertising fell 12.6% and print ad revenue fell 46.5%.
NYT expects subscription revenue to grow about 14% y-o-y, with digital-only subscription revenue up 35%. Total ad revenue is expected to fall about 30%, with digital ad revenue down in the mid-teens, with the company noting the impact of the pandemic.
The price of the digital-only subscription to the main news product every four weeks increased to $17, from $15, the company mentioned during the Q1 report. It is the first increase in the digital subscription price since The Times decided to charge readers for online content in 2011. The company set a new goal last year to reach 10 million subscriptions by 2025.
The surge in the newspaper's subscriptions is largely believed to be driven by the current political climate in the U.S. NYT has likely gained subscribers driven by the publicity and controversy surrounding President Trump, as he has been highly critical of the newspaper and has attacked it several times on Twitter, calling it "failing" and criticizing its coverage. In fact, NYT to benefit from the "Trump Bump" and grew its digital paid subscriptions for the entire Trump presidency. In addition, some consumers could have turned to the Times due to the increase in circulation of "fake news," as the Times is considered one of the most trusted news outlets in the U.S., according to a Pew Research survey. This brand recognition and trust could provide NYT an opportunity to grow its readership further in the coming quarters as well.
The New York Times Co. (NYT) is a media company primarily in the newspaper business. It owns the New York Times, and in the first half of 2014 was able to sell New England Media Group, thus completing the disinvestment process. Currently, the company makes money through advertising in its print newspapers, online advertising, and newspaper circulation fees. In 2011, the company launched its paid subscription service for NYTimes.com, which added an additional revenue stream of digital circulation. The company’s digital-only subscription products include News product, as well as its Crossword and Cooking products
Online media provides more abundantly available information, that too at a faster rate and cheaper prices when compared to print media. This has effectively rendered print newspapers obsolete, and online reading is made further easy by tablets/smartphones, both physical circulation and print advertising within newspapers would see a decline going forward.
The print advertising declined to $270 million from $300 million in 2019, a 10% decrease year-over-year. The decrease in print advertising revenues resulted from a continued decline in display advertising, primarily in the luxury and entertainment categories. Although print advertising revenue represents more than 50% of its total advertising revenue, the overall proportion continues to decline. The increased popularity of digital media among consumers, particularly as a source for news and other content has driven a corresponding shift in demand from print advertising to digital advertising.
Social networking leader Facebook has initiated a unique concept of "frictionless sharing" through their Open Graph tools, which enables publishers to instantly get their articles/content shared across a user's network of friends. Various media companies like Yahoo! and Washington Post have adopted the Open Graph to increase user engagement, and we expect more websites to join the bandwagon if they are to increase both web traffic and user engagement. Additionally, the growing penetration and bandwidth capabilities of smartphones and tablets would play a major role in increasing traffic and viewership for media companies. NYT has also made headway in this segment by releasing smartphone and tablet-specific apps.