Paid online subscribers help paper's profit

The New York Times introduced its paywall in 2011 and says it now takes in more revenue from circulation than advertising. Photo / Thinkstock
The New York Times introduced its paywall in 2011 and says it now takes in more revenue from circulation than advertising. Photo / Thinkstock

The New York Times says core earnings in the past quarter have lifted by gains in online subscriptions, helping offset declines in print and digital ad revenue.

Results reported yesterday showed a fourth quarter profit of US$65.6 million ($79.6 million), compared with US$178 million in the same period a year earlier, which was largely from a one-time gain from spinning off its stake in an online jobs website.

Total fourth-quarter revenue fell 5.2 per cent to US$443.9 million, with circulation revenue down 3.9 per cent and advertising revenue falling 6.3 per cent.

The company said paid subscribers to digital-only subscription packages rose 19 per cent from a year earlier to 760,000 as of the end of the fourth quarter and brought in US$39.1 million in the final three months of the year. That helped offset quarterly drops in print and digital advertising revenue, down 6.3 per cent and 6.5 per cent, respectively.

The results suggest some progress for the prestigious US daily newspaper as it seeks to get rid of its non-core assets and get more money from readers, especially in digital.

"Our 2013 results reflect progress in some of the fundamentals of our business," said president and chief executive officer Mark Thompson.

The Times began its paywall strategy in 2011 and has been emphasising digital as print circulation and advertising decline.

In 2012, the company said it took in more revenue from circulation than advertising for the first time and that trend continued last year.

For the full year, circulation revenue rose 3.7 to US$824 million while ad revenue slipped 6.3 per cent to US$666 million. The overall profit for the year dropped by half to US$65.1 million.

In October, the company completed its sale of the New England Media Group which includes the Boston Globe.

- AAP

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