New York Times digital subscriptions rise 12% as FT marks print eclipse
Plenty of coverage on Brand Republic today about the Financial Times and how its digital subscriptions surpassed print subscriptions for the first time.
The news coincides with some good news/bad news from the New York Times.
While it has reported an operating loss of $143.6m, compared with an operating profit of $31.5m in the same period of 2011, it has also seen paid digital subscribers rise by 12% to more than 500,000.
In March the New York Times had approximately 454,000. That figure has risen to 509,000 as of the end of the second quarter.
It is particularly important for the New York Times to have a strong digital subscriber base as the digital ad market is weak.
The New York Times said that “digital advertising revenues at the News Media Group decreased 1.6% to $52.6m from $53.5m mainly due to declines in national display and real estate classified advertising revenues”.
It was down not only in the first quarter, but across the first half. Digital advertising revenues at the News Media Group decreased 1.9% to $101.1m from $103.1m.
That fall or general flat nature of the US digital ad market is a worrying trend. Last month it was reported that in the first quarter, digital advertising revenue at US newspapers rose just 1% from a year ago. Worse, that marked the fifth consecutive quarter that growth has declined, according to the Newspaper Association of America.
That decline in digital ad revenues underscores the growing importance of having a paid content strategy, which is what I was arguing last week in the case of the The Guardian.
It was interesting to hear from Arthur Sulzberger, Jr, chairman and chief executive officer, The New York Times Company, that the growth in paid digital subscriptions benefited from its decision “to move the gate on NYTimes.com from 20 to 10 free articles a month”.
That shows a certain confidence with its paywall, which appears, despite the tough environment, to be paying off.
The confidence was echoed by Financial Times’ chief executive John Ridding who told Media Week: “For the first time ever, we now have more digital subscribers than print circulation. That’s pretty recent, it’s only in the last month or so. It’s a big deal because it’s happening in the context of growth.”