The nation’s newspaper of record is looking more and more like a digital shop, and it has the subscription numbers to show it.
Digital revenue for The New York Times exceeded its print revenue for the first time in its history, the company reported Wednesday in its second quarter report. The Times added 669,000 digital subscriptions for a total of 5.7 million digital-only subscriptions and a total of 6.5 million subscriptions overall. The company set a goal in 2019 to reach 10 million subscriptions by 2025.
These additions amounted to an increase of 8.4% in subscription revenue for the quarter ending on June 30.
The Times’ total revenue decreased by 7.5% to to $403.8 million from $436.3 million the year prior. Advertising revenue was the hardest hit, falling by 43.9%. Like with many media outlets, advertising income took a hit as brands eliminated discretionary spending during the pandemic. The Times CEO Mark Thompson said last quarter that the company predicted its ad revenue to “fall between 50% and 55%” as the company saw lower demand.
The Times reported on Wednesday that it expects ad revenue in the third quarter to decline about 35% to 40% compared to a year ago due to the continued impact of the pandemic.
“The last full quarter of my stint as CEO of The Times was also one of the most significant,” Thompson said in a statement. “We posted our best ever results for new digital subscriptions, and for the first time in our history total digital revenue exceeded print revenue - a key milestone in the transformation of The New York Times and a testament to how much we’ve achieved over the past eight years.”
Last month, The Times named Meredith Kopit Levien, the newspaper’s chief operating officer, as its next president and chief executive officer. She will succeed Thompson on September 8. Levien said she planned to continue investing in journalism and that she also wanted to add digital games and more non-news products.
The Times has continued investing in audio storytelling, announcing last month it will acquire Serial Productions and partner with “This American Life.” On Wednesday’s earnings call, Levien praised the success of The Daily podcast saying that its audience is now “vastly larger” than the daily or Sunday paper with “somewhere above 3.5 million” listeners each day.
“We believe The Daily plays a role in bringing people into The Times… people feel a real affinity to our brand,” she said.
The Times operating profit decreased to $28.8 million in the second quarter of 2020 from $37.9 million the year prior.