NY Times reported a profit this quarter, according to TechCrunch. At first glance, this is surprising news. Print news has been suffering for a long time as the proliferation of free or cheap digital alternatives are taking all their paid subscribers. Indeed, the NY Times isn't making money off of print media. Advertising sales in the print edition dropped 12%, a trend seen throughout the print news industry, a trend that that doesn't seem to be letting up. The money is coming form digital ads. In fact, 26% of NY Times total revenue now comes from digital ad sales, with sales up 18% since last quarter. For a company built on print news, that'a huge change.
This shouldn't come as a surprise, though. NY Times has been on the forefront of the digital news transition, and they own NYTimes.com, About.com, Boston.com, and others. Instead of fighting the trends and asking for government bailouts, like other big newspaper companies, NY Times is embracing the giant changes that the online advertising model brings to the traditional print paid subscription model.
They aren't going totally free, however. They plan on starting to charge readers starting in 2011. After reading a certain number of free articles (they haven't specified the number yet), readers will be forced to pay a subscription fee to continue. NY Times hopes that this will add a second revenue stream while still drawing profits from digital ads with a substantial level of free content. They haven't decided where they are going to draw that line, but the goal is to leverage both sets of users to maximize revenue.