At the Times Company, ad revenue fell 32 percent in the digital part of the business and 55 percent in print compared with the equivalent period last year. Total ad revenue fell to $67.8 million, from $120.8 million, a 44 percent drop. That figure fell short of the 50 percent to 55 percent decline forecast by Times executives in May.
The Times laid off 68 employees in June, most of them in advertising, including all those who worked at its experimental marketing agency Fake Love, which was closed. The newsroom and opinion departments were not affected by the cuts.
The company’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan were all but shut down in March because of the pandemic, and Times employees have been advised that they will not be required to return to the office before January.
The quarter’s surge in digital subscriptions was probably related to strong interest in news of the pandemic, the widespread protests against racism and police violence that started in May and the 2020 presidential campaign.
The company signed up 493,000 net new subscriptions to what it calls its “core news product” during the three-month period. The cooking and crossword apps, along with other digital offerings, brought in an additional 176,000 subscriptions.
Citing the pandemic, the company offered a bleak outlook for advertising revenue in the third quarter, projecting an overall decline of 35 to 40 percent. For digital ad revenue, the Times said it expected a 20 percent decline over last year’s third quarter. That would be an improvement over the second quarter’s slide.
Digital circulation revenue rose 29.6 percent during the quarter, to $146 million, compared with the equivalent period last year. At the same time, print circulation revenue fell 6.7 percent, to $147.2 million. The company attributed that drop to a falloff in newsstand sales; home-delivery print circulation revenue remained flat.