Post-Election, Digital Subscriptions Skyrocket At New York Times

nytimes-q4-earningsThe New York Times saw its highest subscriber increase since 2011, the year the publication introduced digital subscriptions, following the November presidential election.

It added 296,000 digital subscribers in the fourth quarter, up 19% from the previous quarter and a 45.9% increase year over year.

CEO Mark Thompson said digital subscriptions had accelerated even prior to the election because consumers will pay for quality news products. Providing content worth paying for is part of the Times’ long-term strategy. Subscriptions now account for half of the Times’ revenue.

Plus, many of the new subscribers received an introductory rate, so revenue from subscribers should increase even more as those rates move to normal prices.

Although President Trump tweeted over the weekend that the Times’ audience and subscribers were dwindling, Thompson said that wasn’t true. “Not so much, Mr. President,” he said.

However, the Times’ declines in print advertising did not make up for increases in digital advertising, which rose 11%. And Thompson said that the company has already weathered the shift from home page revenue and garden-variety banners to branded content and programmatic.

During that transition, the Times saw some difficulties as old forms of digital advertising revenue declined faster than the newer forms increased.

Revenue from the Times’ acquisition of The Wirecutter and Sweethome appeared in its Q4 earnings statement. The product recommendation websites earn affiliate revenue when people click through and buy recommended products. The “other revenue” category, which includes funds the Times is collecting from affiliate revenue related to the Wirecutter acquisition, increased 16% year over year to $29 million.

In order to accelerate subscriptions further, the Times will outlay an above-average amount in marketing spend, starting in the next few weeks.

And the Times followed other news publications like The Wall Street Journal and The Economist by joining Snapchat Discover. The channel will feature a Snapchat version of its morning news briefing, running Monday to Friday.

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