About 2 decades ago, I had the opportunity to work as an IT partner for the early digital editions of a few popular newspapers in India, and I know the challenges and difficulties they are facing, from then till now, with the continued decline of revenues from their physical subscriptions and paper advertisements.
As Mr Jeff Zucker, the then the president of NBCUniversal, had said in 2008 they are “trading analogue dollars for digital pennies”. Similarly in 2007, Mr Andrew Rashbass (then Publisher and MD of The Economist, a magazine I love) had said: “With Internet advertising, the thumb rule is to sell to 8% of users, you are turning off 92% of users. Market Forces will make many of the traditional media companies to die due to drying up of Advertising money for them”.
In this context, it is heartening to read in this interview in the McKinsey & Company global publishing newsletter with the outgoing CEO Mr Mark Thompson of The New York Times on their successful reinvention story. One of the authors of the interview is Mr Raju Narisetti, who is a veteran editor with the Washington Post, News Corp, The Wall Street Journal and the founder-editor of Hindustan Times Mint newspaper in India (during which time I had worked with his team).
The metrics of New York times are healthy and glowing – $460M revenue from Digital Subscriptions, which is 48% of their total revenue; 87% of their subscribers are now Digital.