The juxtaposition was striking.
Wednesday, The New York Times Co. reported typical net growth in its various digital subscription offerings of 180,000 and an operating profit for the second quarter of $76 million.
Thursday morning, Gannett, whose holdings include USA Today and more than 200 regional outlets, reported digital gains of its own – 120,000 more paid digital-only subscribers than the previous quarter. But it posted an operating loss of $54 million. Wall Street responded by taking the value of Gannett’s already battered stock down by roughly a quarter Thursday and Friday.
The companies are roughly the same size – Gannett actually somewhat larger with $749 million in revenues for the second quarter compared to the Times’ $556 million. So why the diverging fortunes?
Of course the Times has a national and international market, reachable by readers in digital format with no paper or delivery expense. CEO Meredith Kopit Levien likes to say that the Times “addressable” market of English speakers totals 135 million.
In the Trump era, the national news cycle was hot. But the company also regularly showed six-figure quarterly gains in paid digital before that and continues to do so. Its supplementary offerings like Games and Cooking cover in slower periods.
Gannett also serves a national audience. But look at expenses.
The New York Times, with its mammoth 1,800-plus newsroom can produce a single news report for all its customers. Gannett…