New York Times Digital Reports Record Quarter

The New York Times’ online unit brought in $25.7 million in the first quarter, growing 31 percent over the same period a year ago. It was a record quarter for the division, both in revenues and in profitability.

Operating profit for New York Times Digital climbed from $3.2 million in the first quarter of 2003 to $8.4 million this year. Display advertising was up 54 percent year-over-year, according to company executives.

The company attributed the gains to an increased volume of online advertising — a trend that echoes the experience of fellow online publisher Yahoo That company reported strong earnings last week.

“If you’ve been watching some of our pure play peers on the digital side you know that strength in digitial advertising is very good,” said Martin Nisenholtz, CEO of New York Times Digital, speaking on a conference call for investors.

Nisenholtz said the unit has a “robust product development agenda” on tap for the next few months. New York Times Digital is developing ad products to take advantage of the growth of broadband and the popularity of search engine marketing, Nisenholtz said. The division is also re-tooling vertical content areas to better attract advertisers.

Nisenholtz was especially optimistic about broadband-oriented products, saying he thinks the medium is at an “inflection point” at which it will begin to attract ad dollars that had once gone to broadcast media.

The New York Times Company as a whole saw revenues rise to $801.8 million, but costs rose to $692.8 million, resulting in net income of $58.4 million. Advertising revenues, which represented 66 percent of total revenues, grew 3.1 percent year-over-year.

In the newspaper group, which includes the New York Times, the Boston Globe and the International Herald Tribune, ad revenues increased 1.5 percent due mostly to higher advertising rates. The broadcast group’s revenues rose 8.8 percent, primarily due to increased political advertising revenues.

“Throughout 2004 we will continue to implement the Times’ proven national audience strategy, which includes print, digital and television components, as well as our aligned multiple-media platform strategy at each of our local newspapers and television stations,” said Russell Lewis, president and chief executive officer of the New York Times Company.

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