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NYT says it’s “seeing an acceleration in digital growth” as it reports a record 5 million+ subscribers

5,251,000

That’s the total number of subscribers reported by The New York Times Co.—a record high—as it announced its 2019 fourth-quarter and full-year results. In 2019 it also passed $800 million in annual digital revenue for the first time, a year before its pledged timeline.

2019 was a record-setting year for The New York Times’s digital subscription business, the best since the Company launched digital subscriptions almost nine years ago.

Mark Thompson, CEO, The New York Times Co.

We’re seeing an acceleration in our digital growth,” said Mark Thompson. “In 2019, we added more than one million net new total digital-only subscriptions and as of year end, have 5,251,000 total subscriptions across our print and digital products.”

On the earnings call, he said “the single biggest reason” for the paper’s success was the decision to give more autonomy to teams working on the publication’s various digital products.

In the earnings report that came out on Thursday, the company said its stated goal is to reach 10 million subscribers by 2025. While advertising was a weak spot, the company said it was focused on generating revenue more from readers than from the advertisers.

“The company’s main business,” explained NYT’s Marc Tracy, is “making money directly from customers who pay.”

Buoyed by this accelerating digital growth, the publisher is increasing the price of subscriptions. This is the first price rise being rolled out after eight years.

Starting this week, the price of a digital-only subscription to the main news product every four weeks will increase to $17, from $15. The hike is expected to apply to 750,000 digital-only subscribers, representing about a quarter of digital subscribers.

“We’ve not only seen nine years of rising prices, but also unprecedented investment by The Times in its journalism and digital offerings,” said CEO Mark Thompson. “We believe that our loyal subscribers know that their financial contribution plays an essential role in maintaining the quality, breadth and depth of the report they value so much.”

Shares of the company jumped toward a 15-year high after The New York Times Co. beat quarterly revenue estimates, reported a profit that was well above expectations, hiked its dividend by 20% and paid off all its debt.

Looking forward, in its forecast for the beginning of 2020, the company said it expected recent trends to continue. In other words, the accelerating rise in digital subscriptions is showing no signs of slowing down in the near future.

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