The New York Times Company continued to post significant subscriber growth, adding 157,000 net digital-only subscriptions in the fourth quarter. Credit Jeenah Moon for The New York Times
In a tough environment for journalism, The New York Times Company continued to post significant subscriber growth, propelling the company to a healthy 2017.
The company said on Thursday that it added 157,000 net digital-only subscriptions in the fourth quarter of the year, pushing overall subscription revenue to more than $1 billion for the year. Subscription revenue now accounts for 60 percent of the company’s total revenue.
Buoyed by the growth in digital subscriptions, total revenue for the year increased 8 percent, to $1.7 billion, and 10 percent in the fourth quarter, to $484 million.
The Times Company had more than 2.6 million digital-only subscriptions, which include news, cooking and crossword products, at the end of 2017. Digital-only subscription revenue increased 46 percent last year, to $340 million, and 51 percent in the quarter, to $96 million. Subscription revenue for the year increased 15 percent. For the quarter, it rose 19 percent, to $269 million.
During an earnings call on Thursday, Mark Thompson, the chief executive of The Times, said the company was pleased with the “continued strong retention” among the users who subscribed to The Times amid the 2016 presidential election.
“We’ve continued to make encouraging progress and are seeing far lower monthly churn than a few years ago,” he said.
Digital advertising revenue increased 14 percent last year, to $238 million. In the last three months of the year, digital advertising revenue rose 9 percent, to $84 million; it now represents 46 percent of the company’s total advertising revenue.
With more than $600 million in digital revenue in 2017, the company drew closer to reaching its goal of $800 million by 2020.
The Times, however, continued to face challenges in print advertising. In 2017, print advertising revenue fell 14 percent, to $320 million. Print advertising revenue for the fourth quarter dropped 8 percent, to $98 million. The company said its overall ad revenue for the year fell 4 percent, to $559 million. Ad revenue for the quarter dropped 1 percent.
“We still regard advertising as an important revenue stream,” Mr. Thompson said, “but believe that our focus on establishing close and enduring relationships with paying, deeply engaged users, and the long-range revenues which flow from those relationships, is the best way of building a successful and sustainable news business.”
Adjusted operating costs rose to $376 million for the quarter, from $344 million.
Adjusted operating profit rose to $108 million for the quarter, compared with $96 million for the same period a year earlier. Operating profit fell to $23 million for the quarter, from $56 million, in part because of pensionsettlement charges and higher operating costs.
The company reported a $58 million net loss for the quarter.
The last quarter of 2017 was marked by significant change at the newspaper. The former publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said he was passing the leadership reins to his son, Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, who assumed the title on Jan. 1. The company also continued renovations to its Manhattan headquarters, with its employees now consolidated on fewer floors.
In a separate announcement, on Wednesday, The Times said it had reached a multiyear agreement to print and distribute Newsday’s products out of the company’s plant in Queens.