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NY Times Stock Down 7% Amid Continued Q3 Ad Revenue Declines

The Times tops 4 million digital-only subscriptions in third quarter of 2019

New York Times stock fell 7%, to $29.61, in early trading on Wednesday after the media company reported continued declines in advertising revenues for the third quarter.

The company reported that advertising revenue for print is down 9.7% compared to the third quarter of 2018 and down 17.2% for digital ads. Third-quarter digital advertising this year decreased 5.4%, while print advertising dropped 7.9%.

However, the company touted a jump to 4 million digital-only subscribers and 4.9 million total subscriptions.

In a post-earnings call with analysts, Times president and CEO Mark Thompson touted the company’s participation in Facebook News, the social media giant’s new subscription news service.

“More important than the immediate financial benefits of the agreement is its strategic significance,” Thompson said of Facebook News, which the company believes should bring in new users.

“We previously received small payments for participation in various experiments and innovations,” he said, but noted that Facebook News is different because “this is the first time that a Silicon Valley major has recognized the value of Times journalism to its platform with a substantial multi-year deal.”

Facebook News launched in October but was generating headlines as early as August for its plan to license content from trusted news outlets for millions of dollars.

Executive vice president and chief operating officer Meredith Kopit Levien expanded on the Facebook News partnership during the Q&A portion of the earnings call: “We decided to participate because we saw a substantial increase in amount of money Facebook was ready to commit and it represented a step change in what we’ve seen from a platform before.”

It was consistent, she said, with the company’s plan to drive subscriptions.