New York Times reports 2 years of declining print and digital ad revenues

The media disruption continues despite large increases in digital subscriptions...
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

The New York Times Company [$NYT] reported second quarter 2013 earnings 48% below last year's quarter due to severance and other "special" items but digital paid subscriptions rose 40%.

The full results are here: www.nytco.com/pdf/2Q_2013_Earnings.pdf

Despite rising numbers of readers and paid subscriptions, the company continues to struggle as advertising revenues continued to fall again— 6% in this quarter. This is the eighth sequential quarter of declining print and digital advertising revenues.

"Print and digital advertising revenues decreased…largely due to ongoing secular trends and an increasingly complex and fragmented digital advertising marketplace."

Jeff Bercovici, media reporter at Forbes, noted that the good news on digital was not enough.

Digital subscriptions still represent a smallish part of the company’s overall revenue picture — just 15% of circulation revenue and 7.8% of total revenues, which fell 1% in the quarter, to $485 million.

Foremski's Take: More readers, more subscriptions is usually great news for a newspaper however, print and digital advertising continues to fall in value due to what Mark Thompson, president and chief executive officer, calls "ongoing secular trends." 

Q1 2013 print and digital advertising fell 13% and 4% respectively, due to "ongoing secular trends."

Q4 2012 print and digital advertising fell 10% and 2% due to "ongoing secular trends."

Q3 2012 print and digital advertising fell 11% and 2% due to "ongoing secular trends."

Q2 2012 print and digital advertising fell 8% and 4%.

Q1 2012 print and digital advertising fell 7% and 10%.

Q4 20011 print and digital advertising fell 8% and 5%.

Q3 2011 print and digital advertising fell 10% and 5%.

There was a time when digital advertising was rising!

Q2 2011 print advertising fell 6% and digital rose 16%!

Q1 2011 print advertising fell 8% and digital rose 5%%!

Q4 2010 print advertising fell 7% and digital rose 11%!

[More results here: New York Times Company : Press : Press Releases]

The "ongoing secular trend" is the media disruption carving its way through the entire industry. 

The publisher has to grow faster just to stay in place. Yet it has been praised for its embrace of media technologies and novel forms of reporting.

It's not a good place to be and it's largely because Google has sucked so much value out of the advertising business so that only Google can make money from it.

Even Google is facing a decline in the money it makes from each ad click but it remains hugely profitable because of its scale and because it harvests its content from the Internet and doesn't need to pay editors, reporters, photographers, news bureau rents, etc. 

The New York Times still has hopes of turning advertising revenues around. It recently hired Meredith Kopit Levien, chief revenue officer at Forbes, as its new executive vice president of advertising. Does this mean it will adopt the Forbes' Huntington Post-like business model in which it gets free content from "bloggers?"

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