Reader revenue has been the big growth story at The New York Times, which hit 4.3 million subscriptions at the end of 2018.
After a Trump bump, the Times is doubling down on investigative reporting to maintain subscription growth, COO Meredith Levien told Business Insider.
She also discussed how the Times is trying to grow subscriptions at high price points, how increased competition for subscription dollars affects the Times’ business, and its relationship with platforms.
As COO of The New York Times, Meredith Levien oversees advertising and circulation revenue, which has been the big growth story recently. The Times just hit 3.4 million digital subscriptions and 4.3 million total subs, including print, and set a goal of passing 10 million subscriptions by 2025.
But while President Trump (who has mocked the paper as the “failing New York Times”) contributed heavily to the growth of the Times and other news outlets after the 2016 election, Levien said the Times is no longer reliant on the “Trump bump,” as other stories gain attention and it invests in stories no one else is doing.
“At this point, the president is no longer driving our subs,” Levien told Business Insider. “We’re still in a very strong news cycle. Investigations will continue to get a substantial amount of investment. That’s the kind of work I don’t think anyone is doing at scale.”
She also talked about getting people to pay at the higher end, the Times’ relationship with distribution platforms, and why she’s not worried about competitors heavily discounting subscriptions.
Here’s our conversation, edited and condensed:
Lucia Moses: The Times got a big subscription boost in part with a $1-per-week deal it’s been running. Is there any concern that people will drop off once the promotion ends?
Meredith Levien: We’re about six months into that offer, and retention is pretty good. We don’t publicize our retention rate, but it’s gotten substantially better. We’ve had a number of people come in at 50% off who we had to step up to full price, and that went really well. We’re getting better at how we onboard you and interact with you in the first 90 days. We’re still not as good as the best subscription companies out there, but we’re a lot better than we were, and that gives us confidence we should be able to retain at whatever offer we get people in at. As we get better at the product we’re also making it more valuable. I don’t think there are a lot of places in news where you can say that.
Moses: Where does the Times need to get better?
Levien: We have three big areas of investment. We added 120 new journalists in 2018 and we will continue do that. Investigations will continue to get a substantial amount of investment. Things like the story of Trump’s family wealth and taxes. That’s the kind of work I don’t think anyone is doing at scale. Everything about how tech is transforming the world and we’ll keep covering that. There’s a presidential election and we’ll continue to …read more
Source:: Businessinsider – Tech