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True Genius: How to go from “the future of journalism” to a fire sale in a few short years
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Aug. 4, 2021, 3:57 p.m.
LINK: www.nytimes.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Sarah Scire   |   August 4, 2021

In 2016, The New York Times announced an ambitious goal: 10 million digital subscribers. At an earnings report on Wednesday, the Times showed it was well on its way. It has shot past the 8 million subscriber mark and expects to close in on 8.5 million by the end of 2021.

The Times hit the milestone by adding 142,000 digital-only subscriptions in the second quarter. Of the new subscriptions added, 45% were to Cooking, Games, or the audio app Audm. (The rest subscribed for news.) That’s the highest percentage of non-news product subscriptions yet.

In the same quarter last year, the Times reported a record-breaking 669,000 new subscribers but even then, Times executives cautioned that the exceptional peak — amid a global pandemic, historic protests, and the run-up to a sharply contested election — was unlikely to last forever.

In other words, thanks to the strength of its non-news products, it’s still very good to be The New York Times, even with the sharp slump in news consumption.

Overall subscription revenue increased 15.7%, including revenue from moving, er, “graduating” subscribers who’d been paying an introductory rate to a more expensive tier. A million and a half subscribers on the $1/week plan upgraded, and another 500,000 subscribers will see a price increase, too.

Meredith Kopit Levien, president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company, cast recent investments as an opportunity to make the Times a daily habit for millions more people.

“Given the opportunity we see — an addressable market of at least 100 million people who are expected to pay for English-language journalism and a unique moment in which daily habits are up for grabs — we are continuing to invest in both the value of our individual products and the broader bundle,” Levien said. “We believe these investments will enable us to grow our market share and also to build a larger and more profitable company over time.”

Elsewhere in the report:

  • Growth in advertising revenue was up — like 66% up — mostly in comparison to the extra terrible, no-good advertising numbers this time last year.
  • The reviews site Wirecutter will launch as a paid subscription in the fall. A metered paywall will allow readers to see a certain number of reviews before they’re asked to pay.
  • The Times is considering upping the price to Cooking and Games (currently $5/month or $40/year).

You can read the Times’ own coverage of the earnings report or take a look at the second quarter results for yourself.

 

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