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N.Y. Times' subscriptions surge

7.5 million in 2020 a record, but advertising revenue slides by MARC TRACY THE NEW YORK TIMES | February 5, 2021 at 1:51 a.m.

The New York Times set a record for its subscription business in 2020, a year when a pandemic, social unrest and a bitterly contested presidential race made headlines, the company said in an earnings report Thursday.

After adding 2.3 million digital-only subscriptions in 2020, more than in any previous year, the Times exceeded 7.5 million subscriptions for its digital products and print newspaper, The New York Times Co.'s fourth-quarter report said.

The largest gains of 2020 occurred during two news-heavy periods. In the quarter that started in April, when a great number of Americans were weeks into a routine of working remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic, the company added 669,000 digital subscriptions. In the fourth quarter, which included Election Day, the Times had an increase of roughly 627,000 digital subscriptions.

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For the year, the Times' primary digital offering, its news product, gained 1.7 million subscribers, a 48% increase over 2019.

In the fourth quarter, digital subscription revenue was $167 million, a 37% jump from the final months of 2019. For the year, it was $598.3 million, a 30% rise. Total subscription revenue in 2020 was up 10%, to $1.195 billion.

Total ad revenue at the Times fell 26% in 2020, to $392.4 million, with print ad revenue bearing the brunt of the annual decline, at 39%, the company said.

Fourth-quarter revenue was $509.4 million, a 0.2% rise from 2019. Adjusted operating profit rose 1.4% from the fourth quarter of 2019, to $97.7 million, and 0.9% over the year, to $250.6 million.

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