Despite a decline in ad revenue, The New York Times Co. reported a third-quarter profit of $15.7 million today, due in part to its successful campaign to draw paying subscribers to its website. During the same period last year, the newspaper had reported a loss of $4.3 million.
As expected, total advertising revenue was down by 8.8 percent, to $262 million, which the company blamed on national and classified ads, as well as About.com. While digital ad revenue for the Times’ News Media Group, which includes its newspaper businesses, increased 6.2 percent, to $50.3 million, digital ad revenue for the company overall fell 4.5 percent, to $74.8 million, due in part to a “particularly weak” performance by About.com, which is “suffering from a change in the way Google directs traffic to informational sites.”
However, thanks to decreased costs, 3.4 percent growth in circulation revenue to $237 million, and a $65.3 million pretax gain from the company’s sale of part of its stake in Fenway Sports Group, the company managed to overcome its poor advertising numbers and ended the quarter with an operating profit of $33 million, compared with $9 million a year ago.
The Times’ online paywall also seems to be working, which further helped bolster its recent earnings. There are now 324,000 paid subscribers to the paper’s digital editions, compared with 281,000 paid digital subscribers at the end of last quarter. The free Web access offered to home delivery customers has also helped to boost print subscriptions, the company said.