NY Times Reports $120M in Q2 Losses, But Online Subs Up

A one-time payoff and declines in print advertising offset gains in online readers and online advertising — despite pay wall

The New York Times reported $119.7 million in net losses for the second quarter of the year on Thursday, reflecting both the declining value of its regional newspapers and the continued decline of print advertising. The Times operated with a profit of $60.8 million in the same frame of 2010.

However, the Times is reporting growth in online subscriptions, which means consumers are still flocking to the site despite the pay wall instituted in March.

The losses on the print side were due in part a $161.3 million noncash write-down, a result of the decrease in value of its Regional Media Group, which includes newspapers like the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, Calif. and the Ledger of Lakeland, Fla.

If one excludes such one-time payments, as well as severance costs, the company still reached a profit of $82.9 million, which is down 10 percent from last year. Yet revenue also declined from $576.7 million to $589.6 million – a drop of 2.2 percent – due in large part to a 4 percent decline in advertising.

What stopped most of those numbers from being worse was a boost in online advertising and digital subscribers.

While print advertising decreased 6.4 percent, online advertising increased by 2.6 percent. In the same span, 224,000 new subscribers joined the online pay plan and 57,000 more bought the app for e-readers.

Profits from the digital subscriptions are expected to increase as the introductory rate of 99 cents expires and more customers pay the full rate or $15 every four weeks.

“The second quarter was a historic one for our company, as we successfully launched The New York Times digital subscriptions and began to see the early effect on our overall financial performance,” Janet L. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company, said in a statement. “The positive consumer response to the digital subscription packages is a strong indication of the value that users place on our high-quality news, analysis and commentary. Our digital model exemplifies our growing ability to capitalize on secular trends that show consumer willingness to pay for content across multiple digital platforms."