The New York Times reaches 9.1 million subscribers

Helped by the recent addition of sports website The Athletic, the New York Times Company said on Wednesday it added 387,000 net digital subscribers in the first quarter.

The company now has 9.1 million subscribers, he said, including those of The Athletic, which The Times Company bought on Feb. 1.

As the jump brings The Times closer to its stated goal of 15 million subscribers by the end of 2027, The Athletic is eating away at the company’s profits. The website, which The Times bought for $550 million in cash, lost $6.8 million in February and March.

Overall, the company reported adjusted operating profit of $60.9 million for the quarter, down from $68.1 million a year earlier, hurt by operating losses of The Athletic.

Growth in subscriptions as well as advertising helped push total revenue up 13.6% to $537.4 million. While total advertising revenue increased nearly 20%, digital advertising revenue for the quarter increased 12.6%, which was below the company’s forecast.

Total operating costs increased nearly 18% to $496.4 million.

“We are off to a good start in the next phase of our strategy, which is to become the essential subscription for any English-speaking person seeking to understand and interact with the world,” said Meredith Kopit Levien, President and CEO of the Times Company, said in a statement.

Ms Levien previously said Times executives estimated the market had “at least 135 million” potential subscribers.

In February, The Times announced that it had reached its current goal of 10 million subscriptions and set the new goal of at least 15 million subscribers.

At the end of 2021, the company said it had around 7.6 million subscribers with 8.8 million subscriptions. The acquisition of Athletic this year brought in around 1.1 million subscribers. The company said Athletic added about 16,000 net subscribers in the two months following its acquisition.

Ms. Levien described the growth in subscriptions as the best first-quarter results outside the first quarter of 2020, which was driven by widespread interest in news about the coronavirus pandemic.

The company made a distinction between subscribers and subscriptions — a subscriber can have more than one subscription — in its earnings report for the first time on Wednesday. This reflects the company’s strategy of selling people subscription packages that give them access to news as well as lifestyle products, like Cooking and Wirecutter, a review and recommendation site.

This strategy was highlighted with the company’s acquisitions of The Athletic and, in January, of Wordle, a game that gives players six chances to figure out a five-letter word.

Ms Levien said Wordle attracted tens of millions of new users to Times Company, “many of whom stayed to play other games, leading to our strongest quarter for Games subscriber net additions.” .

For the current quarter, the company expects digital-only subscription revenue to grow 23-27% from a year ago, while digital advertising revenue is expected to grow in the “low to a number”.

Adjusted operating costs for The New York Times Group, which does not include The Athletic, are expected to rise 12-15% in the quarter and then slow in the second half, the company said. Athletic’s estimated operating losses last year were $55 million on $65 million in revenue, and The Times said it expects those losses to improve slightly in 2022.

Shares of The New York Times were up 1.7% at the close of trading Wednesday.

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