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March 10, 2016, 10:25 a.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Joseph Lichterman   |   March 10, 2016

The New York Times is continuing its digital expansion in niche products, announcing Thursday that it was launching Watching, a standalone TV and movie site and newsletter and expanding Well, the Times’ health section. We were first to tell you about the new TV/movie section back in January.

The projects were developed by NYT Beta, the in-house group that’s created efforts such as The New York Times en Español and NYT Cooking. These types of products are key to the Times’ future as it looks to build new products that attract new readers — who can eventually be converted into new subscribers.

“Beta aims to make The New York Times a daily habit for current and potential readers by providing trustworthy guidance they can’t get elsewhere,” NYT Beta vice president Ben French said in a statement. “The Times already helps millions of people plan their meals with Cooking and we believe Well and Watching will become equally indispensable to readers.”

Watching will launch as “a newsletter in the coming weeks in advance of the site’s launch,” according to a release. (The site’s name also explains why the widget on the Times’ homepage lost its Watching moniker.)

The Watching newsletter will come out twice a week on Mondays and Fridays, and it will be written Margaret Lyons, who previously wrote for New York magazine’s Vulture site. Television editor Gilbert Cruz will edit the site.


As we reported earlier, Watching will feature movie and TV recommendations, a guide to help users find the best streaming content, and details on where and how to watch shows and movies.

The new Well site, meanwhile, is designed to “guide readers to a healthier life by providing daily motivation, actionable advice and tools,” the Times said. It’ll also feature a newsletter, guides to help readers “adopt new wellness habits,” and cards that will let readers save and share tips. The Times also last week merged its parenting blog, Motherlode, into Well. It’s now called Well Family.

In a memo last fall, New York Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson, executive editor Dean Baquet, and other executives wrote a long memo outlining the Times’ goal to generate $800 million by 2020 — double the $400 million in digital revenue it made in 2014. A key part of that strategy is products such as Watching and Well, which allow the Times to interact with readers beyond news coverage:

Our readers turn to The Times for more than just news and entertainment. They turn to us to help them make decisions in their daily lives. The newspaper has always provided a significant service role — helping readers decide what show to see, what book to read and what apartment to buy — and we believe we can add even more value on mobile. The effort to modernize our service journalism began with Cooking a year ago. Our goal was to use our content and expertise to address a specific need for our readers: what to cook for dinner. With almost five million monthly users, Cooking has been so popular with readers that we are expanding this service approach to other areas starting with real estate, health, and film and television. Together these efforts aim to reimagine our features sections for the mobile era with the same vigor and creativity that we put into launching them in the 1970s.

Health and film and television are crossed off that list; real estate can’t be too far behind.

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The 74 is getting into Spanish-language education reporting, starting in Los Angeles
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