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Aug. 23, 2016, 12:15 p.m.
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Report: The New York Times is expanding to Australia and Canada

Having faced some difficulties with an earlier era’s attempts in large non-English markets, the Times is turning its focus next to more familiar territory.

The New York Times is planning on expanding to Canada and Australia as part of the paper’s three-year $50 million push to grow its readership outside the United States, Politico reported Tuesday.

The Times announced its international growth initiative, called NYT Global, earlier this year, and it also launched NYT en Español, a Spanish-language site based in Mexico City.

Back circa 2012, in an earlier era of Times global expansionism, the paper had set its sights, in different ways, on China, Brazil, and India — each of which offered huge potential audiences but also significant hurdles, ranging from government censorship to language barriers to low rates of Internet penetration. (The Chinese site was blocked in that country, the Brazilian site never got off the ground, and the Indian vertical was eventually shuttered.)

This time around, though, Canada and Australia offer a common language and relatively well-off populations — not to mention local newspapers facing the same sort of headwinds American papers are. The Times even has some recent strategic history with Canada: Before launching its paywall in the United States in 2011, the Times first launched a test version in Canada. The paper has also held events in Toronto.

And the Times, of course, isn’t the only outlet that’s seen opportunities for growth in Canada and Australia. Both BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post have outposts in Toronto and Sydney, and The Guardian has made Australia one of the pillars of its international growth strategy. And Canada in particular has long been used to the heavy presence of American cultural production, often providing government support for Canadian efforts to counterbalance it.

While these organizations have all been tempted by the promises of new audiences, growth has proven difficult, and it certainly won’t be easy for the Times. The Guardian’s Australian operation lost $14 million AUS ($10.7 million USD) in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015 — up from $6 million AUS the year before, according to The Australian. As a whole, The Guardian lost £173 million ($228 million USD) before taxes last year as its digital ad sales faltered. In Canada, BuzzFeed closed its Ottawa bureau and cut back on its political coverage.

Politico reported that the Times has begun recruiting journalists to work in its Canadian and Australian newsrooms. Eagle-eyed readers have also noticed an uptick of Times coverage of Australia and Canada of late. The Times has reported on topics such as the rush to legalize marijuana in Canada, the Canadian band The Tragically Hip’s possible final show, the struggles of the Australian publisher Fairfax, and the search for four men who threw crocodiles into an Australian school this week.

On Twitter, users, many of them from rival news organizations, welcomed the challenge of the Times’ entrance into their markets and cautioned the Times about the challenges it’ll face.

Photo of a map of the British Empire by Shankar S. used under a Creative Commons license.

POSTED     Aug. 23, 2016, 12:15 p.m.
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