The New York Times’ digital revenue surpassed print revenue in the second quarter for the first time ever, though ad revenue took another year-over-year drop as the coronavirus pandemic continued.
The Times added 669,000 net new digital subscribers during the quarter, according to Wednesday morning’s earnings release from the company. Overall in the quarter, the Times brought in $185.5 million in digital subscription and ad revenue and $175.4 million in print revenue.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, advertising revenue fell a whopping 43.9% compared to the second quarter of 2019. Ad revenue was also down in the first quarter as the pandemic began, decreasing 15.2% compared to Q1 2019.
Diluted earnings per share for the quarter were at $0.14, which is down 6.7% from the second quarter last year, when diluted earnings per share were at $0.15.
In a call for investors Wednesday, New York Times Company chief operating officer Meredith Kopit Levien attributed the outlet’s digital success to the work done by Times journalists covering the coronavirus crisis and national unrest over systemic racism.
Levien mentioned continued effort in “investing in our people, doing all that it takes to attract and retain top talent in all of our major businesses and ensuring that the Times is a place where talented people can do their best work.”
“That includes thinking and acting ambitiously about diversity, equity and inclusion to ensure that the Times both reflects the world we report on and is a workplace that feels inclusive and rewarding to all of our colleagues,” she went on, in a nod to the ongoing cultural discussion around workplace culture and equity, especially in national newsrooms.
President and CEO Mark Thompson also lauded the company’s digital milestone and reminding investors that this would be his last earnings report before Levien takes over for him in the coming weeks.
“She’s a unique talent and will be a bold and brilliant CEO,” he said of Levien before joking that when she helms future calls, they’ll be delivered in “American” rather than his British accent.
“It’s a source of some pride for me that my last full quarter as CEO was not only our best ever for new digital subscriptions but the quarter in which total digital revenue exceeded print for the first time,” he shared. “Now, this has taken its time coming, not because we’ve been slower than others to execute our digital strategy — quite the contrary — but because our great tech platform has remained so resilient. It’s clearly a watershed moment in the transformation of the Times. In revenue now, as in everything else, we are a digital-first company and won’t look back from here.”