The New York Times’ online subscribers accelerated in the fourth quarter, prompting the newspaper company to set an ambitious new goal: to hit 10 million subscriptions by 2025.
The publisher of the eponymous newspaper added 265 000 new digital subscriptions in the period, the biggest increase since the months right after the 2016 election. The Times had 203 000 in the previous quarter and 109 000 in the quarter before that. The paper ended the year with 3.4 million digital subscriptions and 4.3 million total subscriptions.
Times shares rose as much as 6.2% to $28.59 in premarket trading on Wednesday. That would be a 13-year high on a closing basis.
While many newspapers have struggled to make up for print losses as readers move online, the Times has built a large digital subscription business. Subscribers to the Times surged in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s election, before slowing in the first half of last year. But the online subscriber gains have picked back up in recent quarters, reflecting the public’s continued demand for news and the paper’s marketing strategies.
The Times said it was about three-quarters of the way to hitting its goal set in 2015 of doubling digital revenue to $800m by 2020.
Fourth-quarter revenue increased 10% when excluding the impact of an extra week in 2017, with subscription sales up 5% and advertising sales up 11% . Digital advertising revenue was up 23%, while print advertising revenue decreased 10.2%.
The Times is also spending more to get those new subscribers. Marketing expenses increased to $48.6m in the fourth quarter, up about 50% from a year ago.