The New York Times Co. reported that circulation revenues rose in the first quarter, reflecting the continuing success of its digital subscription strategy -- but this growth was more than offset by a steep decline in print advertising revenues and a more modest decrease in digital ad revenues.
NYTCO's total circulation revenues rose 6.5% from $227 million in the first quarter of 2012 to $242 million in the first quarter of 2013, thanks to a 45% jump in the number of the company’s digital subscribers, which numbered 708,000 at the end of the recent quarter, compared to around 490,000 a year before.
However, total advertising revenues tumbled 11.2% from $215 million to $191 million over the same period, canceling out the gains on the circulation side. Print advertising revenues fell 13.3% and digital ad revenues were down 4%. Combining circulation, advertising, and other revenue sources, the company’s total revenues slipped 2% from $475 million to $466 million.
In terms of ad categories, national advertising fell 10.5% to $130 million, retail tumbled 15% to $29 million, and classifieds slid 10.9% to $27 million. Within the classifieds category, help-wanted was down 15% to $6 million, real estate fell 15.3% to $8.5 million, while automotive was down 9.8% to $5.2 million.
On Thursday, NYTCO also released the details of a “new strategy for growth,” clearly intended to allay investor concerns as the publisher appears to be treading water. The elements of the strategy include a lower-priced paid product providing access to the newspaper’s top stories and the most interesting content, as well as lower-priced paid products for specific verticals.
The company also hopes to expand its international audience following the rebranding of the International Herald Tribune as the International New York Times. The company will also produce more original video content and introduce new e-commerce initiatives.