New York Times Adds 455,000 Subscribers in Third Quarter
After moving behind a paywall, Wirecutter added to the company’s revenue stream.,
The New York Times Company said on Wednesday that it added 455,000 new digital subscribers in the third quarter, a gain that keeps the publisher on pace to reach its stated goal of 10 million subscriptions by 2025.
Of the new digital subscribers, 320,000 signed up for The Times’s journalism. The rest came for Games, Cooking and Wirecutter, the product review site that started offering subscriptions in August.
“This was our best third-quarter performance in both News and total net subscription additions since the launch of the digital pay model more than a decade ago, and, outside of 2020, our best quarter ever for digital subscription additions,” Meredith Kopit Levien, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement.
Of The Times’s nearly 8.4 million total subscribers, 7.6 million now have digital subscriptions. The number of print subscribers fell to 795,000 in the July-through-September quarter, from 831,000 in the same three-month period last year, a decline in keeping with trends affecting the news industry as a whole.
The Times also hit a milestone, passing one million subscribers outside the United States, the company said. Roughly 12 percent of its subscribers are international.
Ms. Levien attributed the gains in the quarter to “a busy news period,” as well as improved retention of subscribers and new initiatives meant to turn casual readers into paying customers.
The company reported adjusted operating profit of $65.1 million, a 15 percent increase over the same quarter a year ago, on $509.1 million of revenue, a 19.3 percent rise. Operating costs rose nearly as much, to $460.1 million, or 18.8 percent. Subscription revenues rose 13.8 percent, to $342.6 million, from last year.
After a down period last year, when the economy slowed at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, many companies were once again buying ads for both the print newspaper and the Times site, lifting ad revenues by 40 percent, to $110.9 million. Compared with the third quarter of 2019, a more typical year, ad revenue was down 2.3 percent, however.
The Times Company’s balance sheet surpassed $1 billion in cash as it continued to build its free cash flow, a measure of financial health. The company has been conservative with its resources but pays a quarterly dividend to shareholders that costs $40 million annually.
The Times said it expected subscription revenue to increase 12 percent and digital subscription revenue to go up 25 percent in the fourth quarter. It also projected growth in ad revenue around 15 percent. Costs will also rise by 17 to 20 percent, the company said.
New digital offerings may bring in more revenue in the years ahead. In addition to moving Wirecutter behind a paywall during the third quarter, The Times started offering subscriptions to some of its 50 newsletters, which the company had offered free for years.
Last month, The Times announced the development of an audio app that will draw on the 25-year archive of “This American Life,” the radio show produced in part by Chicago Public Media. The company’s alliance with the program went along with the company’s $25 million acquisition of the audio media company Serial Productions last year.
The Times also announced in September that it was testing an ad-free iPad app inspired by the print section The New York Times for Kids.