The New York Times can thank an uptick in subscribers — specifically digital subscribers — for its positive earnings report last week.
The Times’ digital subscription effort, at first controversial, is now its most important source of revenue growth and shows how it can become a digital-only publisher.
So how is its digital business doing overall? For the past six years, Times’ digital revenue (subscribers and ads) more than doubled to $442 million. Print-only revenue fell 18 percent to just over $1 billion in the same period. In 2015 Times’ leadership announced that they aimed to hit $800 million in overall digital revenue by 2020 — a goal that will be difficult at best.
Most of the digital gains are coming from digital subscribers. From 2011 to 2016, money from people who only pay for its online version rose more than five times, or 418 percent, to $233 million, while print subscription revenue declined 2 percent to $648 million.
Digital even managed to see some growth in ad spending, while ad spending at the newspaper overall declined 23 percent. Print, however, is still responsible for more revenue than digital, though that gap is narrowing.
The newspaper’s transition from an advertisement to a subscription-based revenue model has helped soften overall revenue losses. Still, New York Times’ revenue has not recovered from its pre-recession peak: