New York Times Company Adds 180,000 Digital Subscribers

From a New York Times story by Katie Robertson headlined “The New York Times Company Adds 180,000 Digital Subscribers”:

The New York Times Company said on Wednesday that it had gained 180,000 online subscribers in the most recent quarter, and that it was improving its profit forecast for the full year.

In financial results for the latest quarter, the company said the revenue from those new subscribers made up for the higher operating costs from The Athletic, the sports news website that The Times bought in January.

Overall, The Times recorded an adjusted operating profit of $69 million for the quarter, up from $65 million in the same period last year. The Athletic had operating losses of $9.6 million. It has lost nearly $29 million in the three quarters since it was acquired.

Meredith Kopit Levien, the chief executive of The Times, said the company now expected to end the year with a total adjusted operating profit of $320 million to $330 million, at the top of the guidance range provided in February.

The company’s strategy centers on bundling its digital products, which include Cooking, Games, Wirecutter and now The Athletic, alongside its core news report. It hopes readers will pay more by subscribing to more than one offering.

ValueAct, an activist investor, announced in August that it had bought nearly 7 percent of The New York Times Company’s common stock and would push the news organization to push its bundled subscription more forcefully.

Ms. Levien said The Times had passed a milestone of one million bundle subscribers.

The company has added 180,000 net digital-only subscribers of all kinds in two consecutive quarters. The Times now has 9.33 million total subscribers, who have 10.75 million paid subscriptions across print and digital, and remains on its pace to reach its goal of 15 million total subscribers by the end of 2027.

“The biggest story of our third quarter was continued progress on the bundle, with mounting evidence that our strategy is working,” Ms. Levien said in a statement. “It was our best quarter yet for bundle net additions.”

Operating costs at The Times increased 9.5 percent from a year earlier, to $503.8 million. The company spent 24 percent more on product development than in the same quarter last year, while sales and marketing costs dropped 22.7 percent to $64.7 million. The company also hired additional newsroom employees.

While the advertising market is slowing down in the face of recession fears, The Times reported a 4.9 percent increase from a year earlier in digital ad revenue, to $70.3 million, though print advertising decreased. The increase in digital ads was due in part to The Athletic, which recently introduced ads. Overall advertising fell 0.4 percent, to $110.5 million.

The Times is forecasting a 17 to 20 percent increase in subscription revenue for the fourth quarter of 2022, while it expects total advertising revenue to decrease about 5 percent in that period.

Katie Robertson is a Times media reporter. She previously worked as an editor and reporter at Bloomberg and News Corporation Australia.

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