New York Times sees record digital subcriptions in the first quarter

The Times started charging for online content in 2011

The Times added 587,000 net new digital subscriptions

For The New York Times Company the first quarter of this year has been the best quarter in history when it comes to digital subscriptions. The Times gained more digital subscribers during the first quarter of this year compared to any quarter since 2011 when it started charging readers for its online content. The Times was able to set this record despite the fact that it is allowing audiences to access the majority of its coverage related to the coronavirus outside of its pay model.

During the first quarter of 2020 The Times added 587,000 net new digital subscriptions, resulting in the highest number of net new subscriptions in a quarter in its history. Of the 587,000 net adds, 468,000 were to its core news product, with 119,000 to other digital products. As of the end of April, The Times has more than four million subscriptions to its digital-only news product; more than five million digital-only subscriptions in all; and more than six million total subscriptions across digital and print.

“The Times’s business model, with its growing focus on digital subscription growth and diminishing reliance on advertising, is very well positioned to ride out this storm and thrive in a post-pandemic world. We’ve seen historic audience levels and an unprecedented rate of subscriber growth as well as real pressure on advertising revenue,” Mark Thompson, president and chief executive officer, The New York Times Company, said.

Despite the record number of subscriptions, the company’s operating profit decreased to USD 27.3 million in the first quarter of 2020 from USD 34.6 million in the same period of 2019. This is because the higher digital-only subscription and other revenues were more than offset by lower advertising revenues and higher costs.

“We saw advertising fall rapidly towards the end of the quarter and believe that advertising in the second quarter will fall between 50% and 55% compared to a year ago with limited visibility beyond that,” Thompson said.

First-quarter digital advertising revenue decreased 7.9%, while print advertising revenue decreased 20.9%. Digital advertising revenue was USD 51.2 million, or 48.2% of total company advertising revenues, compared with USD 55.5 million, or 44.4%, in the first quarter of 2019. Print advertising revenue decreased as the COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated, largely impacting the luxury, media, entertainment and financial categories.

The Times expects the trend of increasing digital subscription to continue. It expects total subscription revenues in the second quarter of 2020 to increase in the mid- to high-single digits compared with the second quarter of 2019, with digital-only subscription revenue expected to increase in the high-twenties.







The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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