Peter Kafka

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The New York Times Sells 100,000 Digital Subscriptions In Three Weeks

The New York Times says digital subscriptions “have surpassed 100,000″, less than a month after the publisher put up its Web paywall.

Is that good? Bad? Make your own guess. Times PR boss Bob Christie, says that number doesn’t include free starter subscriptions offered to some readers, via Lincoln. But he says it does include launch promotions which offered a four-week trial for $0.99.

If all of those subs stick around for a year, that’s at least another $19.5 million in revenue for the paper. But that’s a big “if.”

Here’s the Times’ take: “So soon after the launch, the Company does not yet have visibility into conversion and retention rates for these paying customers after the initial promotional period, although early indicators are encouraging.”

The rest of the paper’s numbers are OKish, for a big print publication: Revenues are down 3.6 percent, with ad revenue down 4.4 percent and circulation dollars down 3.7 percent.

The Times’ digital story is a bit of a mixed bag. The publisher’s media group saw digital ad revenue increase 14.9 percent, but revenues at About.com, which have been a big component of its Web business for years, dropped 10.2 percent, and operating profit at About dropped 13.9 percent.

The Times lays some of the blame at Google’s feet: “Design changes in cost-per-click advertisements served by Google had a negative effect on click-through rates in the quarter, and the Company expects that to be the case through the second quarter of 2011. The About Group also experienced a moderately negative impact on page views from the algorithm changes Google implemented in the quarter.”


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik