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.







2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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