The Los Angeles Times has doubled its number of digital subscribers to 170,000 since its purchase by biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong from Tribune Publishing in June 2018. A new report from Poynter, however, reveals that growth has slowed.
The goal was to double digital subscriptions again this year to hit 300,000. But an internal memo sent to staff Monday and obtained by Poynter shows the L.A. Times has netted just 13,000 digital subscriptions in 2019.
“Our future depends on rapid and substantial subscription revenue growth,” executive editor Norman Pearlstine and managing editor Scott Kraft wrote, adding the first half of the year “has been disappointing.”
The memo said the LAT added 52,000 digital subscriptions, but suffered from “significant cancellations during the same stretch," netting 13,000 new digital subscribers.
“Digital conversions are our top priority between now and the end of the year,” the memo reads.
Subscriber churn can be the fault of a number of reasons, from readers cancelling after free trials end to a lack of content personalization that serves articles most relevant to them.
The Los Angeles Times is also available on Apple News+, a service that lets users pay $9.99 a month to access content from a number of big publishers.
A current online offer for am Los Angeles Times digital subscription is 99 cents for the first month and $2 a week after that — about $100 a year.
Pearlstine and Kraft noted they “remain convinced that we can grow to 1 million subscriptions in the next few years.”
The newspaper added more than 125 new employees to the newsroom in the past year, investing heavily in its journalism and staff. On its website, the LAT says it has 1.2 million weekday print readers.
The New York Times has over 3 million digital subscribers, and The Washington Post has more than 1.7 million.The Wall Street Journal had 1.71 million digital subscribers at the end of 2018.