Trump Bump Drives NYT Subscribers
The Trump bump and all that free publicity from the volatile US President continues to payoff for the New York Times Co, enabling it to report a surprise second half profit of $US24 million (up from $US15.6 million a year ago) and add 109,000 new subscribers in the three months (68,000 of which were for the newspaper only).
The Times now has 2.892 million digital-only subscribers, out of 3.8 million in total which also includes well over 200,000 puzzle subscribers. It remains the most successful newspaper in the US that we know of - the Wall Street Journal, published by News Corp, does not release the same detail, nor does the Washington Post, owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
Tronc, a smaller newspaper company is rumoured to be in talks to sell one of its last major titles - the Chicago Tribune. it sold the Los Angeles Times to its former deputy chair last month. Tronc cut the size of the newsroom at its New York Daily news by 50% last month and has continued to make smaller cuts, moves that call into question that citys third paper (after the Times and the New York Post owned by News Corp).
The New York Times Co said in its second quarter results (https://investors.nytco.com/investors/investor-news/investor-news-details/2018/The-New-York-Times-Company-Reports-2018-Second-Quarter-Results/default.aspx) that the 109,000 new subscribers compares to 93,000 digital only subscribers in the June quarter of 2017. The rise shows that the positive contribution from Donald Trump and his incessant attacks on the paper (and others) for publishing what he claims is ‘fake news’ is still adding to the company’s financial strength and improving its bottom line. The company said operating profit jumped 50% to $US40 million in the June quarter from $US26.4 million a year earlier.
The company said subscription revenue rose 4.2% to $US260.6 million, primarily due to an increase of 19.6% to $US98.7 million in its digital subscription revenue, offsetting a 7.5% drop in digital advertising revenues and an 11.5% drop in print ad revenues. The higher digital income helped push total revenue up 2% to $US415 million for the quarter,.
Also helping was a sharp 40% jump in ‘other’ revenues - primarily a distribution and print deal for Newsday, a rival daily based on Long Island, rental income from leasing four of its midtown office floors in New York and income from Wirecutter, a recommendation website bought in 2016 and now boosting revenues.
The pace of new signings is slowing - in the March quarter the NYT added 139,000 news subscribers and 157,000 in the three months to last December. But the impact of Trump is illustrated in the doubling in digital only subscribers in the past two years - from the June quarter of 2016, five months before Trump’s election when 67,000 were added to make a total of 1.424 million.
The 2.892 million at the end of June out of 3.8 million in total means there are around 900,000 subscribers to the paper, either for print by itself or print and digital. That break down wasn’t provided. Quarterly revenue has risen from $372.6 million two years ago to $460 million in the latest quarter - a rise of more than 23%.
NY Times Co shares are up 30% so far this year.
Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.
At the AFR he was a finance writer, Finance Editor, News Editor and Chief of Staff. At the Nine Network he was supervising producer of Business Sunday for more than 16 years. He has also written for other online and analogue print publications here and overseas.