The New York Times is betting big on the public’s appetite for journalism. How big? Ten million subscribers big.
The New York Times Company (NYT) wants to eclipse that number by 2025, it said Wednesday when it reported earnings.
The company also said it generated more than $709 million in digital revenue, a number that positions it to meet another goal — $800 million in digital revenue by the end of 2020.
The Times’ bullish outlook is driven by that digital growth.
The Times now has a new high of 4.3 million total paid subscriptions, and the company said Wednesday that more than 3.3 million people pay for its array of digital offerings, which include its popular Cooking and Crossword apps.
The company said it added 265,000 digital subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2018, the largest spike since the period following the 2016 election.
The Times’ stock rose more than 4% on Wednesday.
Mark Thompson, the president and CEO of the New York Times Company, said that the strong showing in digital revenue prompted the company to reassess its subscription goal.
“There’s reason to believe the ultimate number of subscribers could be far larger” than 10 million, Thompson told investors on a conference call Wednesday, but said he believes the goal is “realistic.”
And Thompson said that the Times is “far less dependent on the politics of the moment than the surge two years ago.”
In an era defined by newsroom layoffs and fickle media strategies, the Times has weathered the challenges better than most, owing to its pedigree and the quality of its journalism.
New York Times subscription growth, by the numbers
The media industry has already shed more than 1,000 jobs this year, but the Times said Wednesday that it added 120 employees to its newsroom last year to bring the total number of journalists to 1,600, the largest staff in the paper’s history.
But that isn’t to say the paper has completely avoided the industry headwinds.
Wednesday’s earnings provided a reminder of that, with the New York Times Company reporting that its operating profit was $74.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, a drop from $90.5 million in the same period of the previous year; adjusted operating profit likewise dropped to $94 million from the $105.9 million in the prior year.