Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson

The New York Times Co. today reported Q1 revenues inched ahead 1.0 percent to $443.6M while operating profit tumbled 21 percent to $27.3M due to a 15.2 percent decline in advertising sales to $106.1M.

CEO Mark Thompson warned investors that Q2 advertising is expected to fall from 50 percent to 55 percent "with limited visibility beyond that."

The COVID-19 crisis has rocked the NYTC's key luxury, media, entertainment and financial advertising categories.

Thompson talked up the NYTC's robust performance on the digital front.

The company added a record-setting 587K net new digital subscriptions during the quarter despite allowing free access to the majority of its coronavirus coverage. Eighty percent of new digital subscribers were for the core news site, while the balance were for crossword puzzles, cooking and audio products.

NYTC now has more than 4M digital-only news subscribers, 1M subs for non-news products and 6M in total print/digital subs.

Thompson said the NYTC "will emerge from this global crisis with a distinctive and valuable advertising revenue stream to complement a digital news subscription business which is now by far the largest and most successful in the world."

The company posted a 5.4 percent rise in subscription revenues to $285.4M. Digital revenues surged 18.3 percent to $130M, while print revenues declined 3.4 percent to $155.4M.

"The revenue from those subscriptions—and our strong balance sheet—give us real confidence, not just that we can remain financially sound through the pandemic, but also that we can safely invest in our digital growth strategy and continue to hire new talent to help execute it," said Thompson.