New York Times, Wall Street Journal Ride Digital Growth to Higher Profits

From a Wall Street Journal story by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and David Marcelis headlined “Publishers of Wall Street Journal, New York Times Ride Subscription Growth to Higher Profits”:

The publishers of The Wall Street Journal and New York Times posted higher earnings for the September quarter, as subscription-revenue growth was offset by sharp declines in advertising partly caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

New Corp, which owns the Journal, HarperCollins Publishers and news organizations in the U.K. and Australia, swung to a profit of $34 million in its latest quarter, while New York Times Co. said net profit more than doubled to $33.6 million. . . .

The pandemic has affected many news media companies, with print advertising and single-copy sales falling sharply. Both the New York Times and News Corp have been able to weather the storm by putting greater emphasis on a digital-subscription strategy.

Dow Jones & Co., the News Corp unit that publishes the Journal, said digital circulation revenue accounted for 63% of its circulation revenue for the quarter, while the Times said digital subscriptions represented a larger share of revenue than print subscriptions for the first time in its history.

The companies’ flagship publications have signed up new subscribers at a fast clip in recent quarters. The Journal averaged more than 2.35 million digital subscribers in the quarter, up from over 2.2 million in the June quarter. Including the print edition, the Journal averaged 3.1 million subscribers in the period.

The Times, meanwhile, said it ended the quarter with approximately 6.9 million total subscriptions. Its 393,000 net new digital subscriptions—275,000 for its core news offering and 118,000 for lower-cost digital products such as cooking—followed an increase of 669,000 net new digital subscribers a quarter ago. . . .

Overall, the New York Times’s revenue declined 0.4% to $426.9 million, with subscription revenue rising 13% to $301 million. Advertising revenue fell by 30% to $79.3 million, with print advertising dropping by 47%.

The company said it expected its total subscription revenue to rise about 14% in the fourth quarter, driven by a 35% gain in digital-subscription revenue. It also predicted a 30% drop in advertising revenue in the same quarter as the effects of coronavirus continue.

News Corp posted revenue of $2.12 billion, a 9.5% decline from a year earlier, primarily due to the loss of contributions from News America Marketing, its coupon business which was sold earlier this year. Excluding that sold-off division, the company said the adjusted revenue decline was 3%. Circulation and subscription revenue rose 0.7% to $1 billion, while advertising revenue dropped 45% to $332 million. . . .

The company said its Dow Jones unit, which in addition to the Journal publishes MarketWatch, Barron’s and others, reported a 47% jump in segment earnings to $72 million.

News Corp’s book-publishing and digital real-estate services divisions—whose properties include HarperCollins Publishers and the operator of—were also strong performers, each posting a 45% increase in segment earnings to $71 million and $119 million. . . .

News Corp has been moving to shed noncore assets in an effort to streamline the company. In addition to the sale of News America Marketing, News Corp also sold advertising-services company Unruly earlier this year. . . .

Also see Edmund Lee’s  New York Times story headlined “New York Times Hits 7 Million Subscribers as Digital Revenue Rises.”


Speak Your Mind