The New York Times set another subscription record, as revealed in its second-quarter earnings report released today: it has passed the 2 million mark in digital-only news subscribers. Last quarter, NYT passed the 2 million digital-only mark with the help of its digital crossword subscribers, but this time around it was able to do it sans crossword subs, recording 2.03 million digital-only news subscriptions and 306,000 crossword subscriptions for a total of 2.33 million digital-only subscriptions in Q2. Those numbers represent a 66.7 percent, 44.3 percent and 63.4 percent increase over the same quarter last year, respectively.
“We reached that second million in less than half the time it took to get to that first million,” said New York Times Company president and CEO Mark Thompson in an earnings call this morning.
Revenue for total digital-only subscriptions in Q2 was $82.5 million, representing a 46.4 percent year-over-year increase. “We believe that more and more people are prepared to pay for high quality in-depth journalism that helps them make sense of the world,” said Thompson in a statement, explaining further in the call that paid subscriptions form “the foundation of our strategy.”
During the course of the call, Thompson and executive vice president and chief operating officer Meredith Kopit Levien described some of the factors contributing to the Times’ continued strength on the subscription front, ones not having to do with the Trump bump that initially jumpstarted the Times’ surge. That included its “Truth. It’s more important than ever,” campaign, credited with helping to both attract and retain new subscribers.
While acknowledging that a substantial amount of subscribers start on the Times’ substantially discounted introductory offers, Kopit Levien said that the Times is “retaining at least as well if not better than we’ve seen in previous cohorts,” owed in part to a move to “longer introductory offers because they retain better.”
And in a counterpoint to the idea of the New York Times as solely the domain of coastal elites, Kopit Levien said many of the new domestic subscribers are “more likely to be from the center of the country and less affluent.” International subscriptions are also doing well, and are growing at a faster rate than domestic.
On the advertising front, the Times saw growth in total ad revenue, at .8 percent, for the first time in almost 3 years. That was owed to a 22.5 percent year-over-year increase in digital ad revenue that offset a comparatively modest 10.5 percent decrease in print ad revenue. Nice, but not indicative of a future trend. “We regard this more as a reflection of the monthly volatility in this revenue stream rather than a significant turn in the market,” said Thompson.
During the call, Thompson got to include a dig at Fox & Friends, whose network, Fox News, ran a full-page ad in The New York Times this morning, quoting Times TV critic James Poniewozik describing it as “the most powerful TV show in America” in a piece that compared the attention-retaining tactics of children’s television with the attention-retaining tactics of shows watched by President Trump. “Fox & Friends decided to move upmarket and support our journalism with their money,” he said with approval.