For the year, The Times’s primary digital offering, its news product, gained 1.7 million subscribers, a 48 percent increase over 2019. More than five million Times subscriptions are for the news product alone, The Times said. Other digital offerings, like the Cooking and Games apps, gained more than 600,000 subscriptions in 2020, a 66 percent rise, for a total of roughly 1.6 million. The remaining subscriptions — about 833,000 — are for the print newspaper.
In the fourth quarter, digital subscription revenue was $167 million, a 37 percent jump from the final months of 2019. For the year, it was $598.3 million, a 30 percent rise. Total subscription revenue in 2020 was up 10 percent, to $1.195 billion.
A downside to the quarter, and the year, were ad sales. The closings and suspensions of businesses during the pandemic took a toll across the media industry, cutting into the marketing budgets of many companies that buy ads. Total ad revenue at The Times fell 26 percent in 2020, to $392.4 million, with print ad revenue bearing the brunt of the annual decline, at 39 percent, the company said.
In the fourth quarter, digital advertising revenue dropped 2 percent from a year earlier, to $90.1 million. Print ad revenue declined 38 percent in the fourth quarter, to $49.1 million. The print ad decline was quickened by the pandemic but was also related to larger trends, The Times said. In the quarter, 65 percent of total ad revenue came from digital, compared with 54 percent a year earlier.
Fourth-quarter revenue was $509.4 million, a 0.2 percent rise from 2019. Adjusted operating profit rose 1.4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019, to $97.7 million, and 0.9 percent over the year, to $250.6 million.