The New York Times added a record number of new subscriptions in Q1, the publisher announced during its Q1 earnings call on Wednesday. There were 587,000 net new digital subscriptions in spite of the Times keeping most coronavirus-related reporting outside of its paywall.
Advertising revenue continues to be down, decreasing 15.2% compared to Q1 2019, but subscription revenue is up 5.4% from Q1 2019. In a call with shareholders Wednesday morning, Mark Thompson, president and chief executive officer of the New York Times Company, framed that as an “increasing emphasis on subscription revenue and reducing reliance on ad revenue.”
Notably, print subscription revenue fell 3.4% from Q1 2019, attributed on the call to losses in single-issue sales at vendors that were closed amid the coronavirus pandemic. Digital-only news subscriptions are up 16.2% from the same quarter last year. Subscriptions for other Times products are up 47.1% over Q1 2019, and ultimately, total subscription revenues are up 5.4% from the same quarter last year overall.
Diluted earnings per share for the quarter are at $0.20, which is up 11.1% from the first quarter last year. In 2019, first-quarter diluted earnings per share were $0.18.
On Wednesday’s call, Thompson addressed the earnings report and how it related to the coronavirus, noting that while the earnings told “a broadly encouraging story,” the paper is focusing on the suffering of readers and employees.
“We aren’t and never will lose sight of the scale of the human tragedy and economic disruption and hardship that the coronavirus is bringing to America and the world,” he said, mentioning that he is aware Times employees are putting themselves in danger to report on the crisis every day.