The New York Times Company Reports Loss as Print Ads Continue Decline...
Times Co. Reports a Loss, Tempered by Digital Growth
By RAVI SOMAIYA APRIL 30, 2015
The New York Times Company posted a $14 million net loss for the first quarter of 2015, driven by a pension settlement charge and a drop in lucrative print advertising. But digital subscriptions continued to show solid growth, the company said on Thursday, and digital advertising grew at a double-digit pace.
Adjusted operating profit grew to about $59 million, from about $57 million in the same quarter last year. Cost reductions helped to offset a drop in revenue.
In its quarterly earnings, the Times Company said it added 47,000 new digital subscribers, for a total of about 957,000, a 20 percent increase from the first quarter of 2014. It was the strongest quarter for these subscriptions since the fourth quarter of 2012. Digital subscriptions were responsible for $46 million in revenue in the quarter, up 14 percent from the same quarter last year.
Total revenue decreased 1.6 percent, to $384 million. Circulation revenue increased by about 1 percent, as an increase in home delivery price helped offset a decline in print copies sold.
Digital advertising increased 11 percent. But print advertising, which makes up a greater proportion of revenue at a higher profit margin, dropped 11 percent. Overall advertising revenue was off 5.8 percent.
Other revenue, including from the company’s conference business, was up 6.5 percent.
Shares in the company closed up more than 4.5 percent on Thursday.
“We got off to a solid start in early 2015,” said Mark Thompson, the company’s chief executive, “as our company maintained its digital momentum.”
He attributed the digital consumer growth to “improved retention and higher traffic to the website, partially as a result of our recent audience development efforts.” The increase in digital advertising, he said, was driven by growth across mobile, native advertising and video.
The Times, like most legacy news media organizations, is trying to offset dropping print advertising revenue with increases in digital and other revenue. It recently promoted Kinsey Wilson to executive vice president, product and technology, to oversee strategy and innovation, and Meredith Kopit Levien to chief revenue officer, overseeing the generation of advertising and subscription revenue.
In a call with investors on Thursday, company executives reiterated that the NYT Now mobile app would change to free from subscription in May, saying they felt it might be a more successful proposition in terms of broadening The Times’s audience.
The newspaper’s cooking product, a hub for recipes and food-related content, has been free since its introduction, partly because the company learned from NYT Now, Mr. Thompson said, to build an audience before seeking to monetize a product.
The Times recently started a men’s style section. It will also invest in other initiatives, Mr. Thompson said.
Though cost management will remain a focus in 2015, Mr. Thompson said, the company “will continue to make digital investments.”
On Wednesday, The Times announced that Clifford J. Levy, a Pulitzer-prize-winning reporter and one of the architects of the NYT Now mobile app, would join the newspaper’s masthead as an assistant editor, to oversee the presentation of the report on all digital platforms.
On Thursday, the newspaper announced that another Pulitzer-prize-winning reporter, Charles Duhigg, would become the newsroom’s leader for the company’s events and conferences business.
A version of this article appears in print on May 1, 2015, on page B4 of the New York edition with the headline: Times Co. Posts a Loss, Tempered by Digital Growth.