Sunday, August 9, 2015

Newsonomics: 10 Numbers on The New York Times’ 1 million Digital-Subscriber Milestone

Newsonomics reporting:

...4. The Times can count about the same number of payingdaily readers today as it could in 1995.

In those pre-digital days, the Times’ daily circulation stood at 1.5 million. Today, it counts 625,000 daily print payers (home delivery and single copy) and those 1 million digital payers. That’s a little over 1.6 million. That’s another mind-boggling equivalency. With all that has changed, in the news business particularly, roughly the same number of people pay for The New York Times. One takeaway: Even at the peak of financial success — and the ’90s were good for the industry — the Times still relied on only a tiny percentage of Americans. At one point, a million and a half paying readers meant sustaining prosperity. Now, it seems like a shaky lifeline. There’s truth and there’s perception, and a lot to think about..

9. Newsroom investment is a business driver.

Of the Times’ total expense budget, about 20 percent goes to the newsroom. That’s about one-third more than the average U.S. daily, which spends 12.5 percent — or one out of eight dollars — on content creation. It’s no accident that the two regional leaders in digital-only sales, The Boston Globe (with 63,000 digital-only subscribers) and the Star Tribune in Minneapolis (with 58,000 digital-onlies), both spend closer to 20 percent as well. Readers know quality, depth, and breadth when they see it, and they’re willing to pay for it. There’s a lesson in that for the industry.

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