The New York Times Company reported a 6.6% increase in first-quarter revenues at $473 million with growth in digital subscriptions but a continued decline in print newspaper sales.
Subscription revenues in the first quarter of 2021 rose primarily due to growth in the number of subscriptions to the Company’s digital-only products, which include news product and Games, Cooking and Audm products, as well as a benefit from subscriptions graduating to higher prices from introductory promotional pricing. Revenue from digital-only products increased 38.1 percent, to $179.6 million. Print subscription revenues decreased 3.8 percent to $149.5 million, largely due to lower single-copy and bulk sales revenue, while revenue from domestic home delivery subscription products grew 0.5 percent.
The Company ended the first quarter of 2021 with approximately 7,816,000 subscriptions across its print and digital products. Paid digital-only subscriptions totaled approximately 6,991,000, a net increase of 301,000 subscriptions compared with the end of the fourth quarter of 2020 and a net increase of 1,990,000 subscriptions compared with the end of the first quarter of 2020. Of the 301,000 total net additions, 167,000 came from the Company’s digital news product, while 134,000 came from the Company’s Cooking, Games and Audm products.
Meredith Kopit Levien, president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company, said, “The Times finished the first quarter with more than 7.8 million paid subscriptions across our digital and print products, more than 100 million registered users, and an average weekly audience of 76 million readers. That foundation, plus our unmatched journalistic breadth and a market of at least 100 million people who are expected to pay for English-language journalism, grounds our conviction that we can substantially and profitably scale paid subscriptions over time.
“We recorded a significant improvement in profitability in the first quarter, thanks to the size and strength of our current digital subscription base and an improvement in digital advertising. Total digital subscription revenue grew by 38 percent and we added 301,000 net new digital subscriptions across News, Cooking, Games and Audm, with 167,000 net new digital News subscriptions.
“The fundamental drivers of our business — audience, registered readers, and subscriber engagement — are stronger than in 2019 and position us well for long-term growth. In February and March, our audiences declined from their historic highs last year, and we saw fewer net subscription additions in the latter part of the quarter. We expect moderated growth to continue through the second quarter, traditionally our softest of the year. With lower forecasted second quarter performance, we now expect annual total net subscription additions to be in the range of our 2019 performance, which, prior to 2020, was our best year for net additions.
“We’ve made a sizable and sustained investment in our journalistic engine — an engine that powers the largest and most successful digital subscription business in journalism. While we don’t know which storylines will drive the next big news cycle, we do know that the size of our newsroom, its range of expertise, and our continued investment in meeting more needs position us to capture that demand, whatever its source.”