The New York Times Company added 300,000 paid digital subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2023, the company said on Wednesday, helping to push annual revenue for digital subscriptions above $1 billion for the first time.
The Times reported total revenue of $676.2 million in the last three months of the year, essentially flat compared with a year earlier. Adjusted operating profit increased 8.5 percent, to $154 million.
It was “a strong year for The Times that showcased the power of our strategy to be the essential subscription for every curious person seeking to understand and engage with the world,” Meredith Kopit Levien, the company’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.
The company has focused in recent years on pushing a bundle of products to subscribers: its core news report as well as games like Wordle and Spelling Bee; its product review site, Wirecutter; a recipe app; and The Athletic, its sports news website.
The Athletic, which The Times bought two years ago for $550 million, continued to lose money in the fourth quarter. But its operating loss shrank to $4.4 million, from $9.6 million a year earlier. Revenue at The Athletic grew 31.3 percent, to $38.5 million.
At the end of the year, The Times had 10.36 million subscribers, 9.7 million of them digital-only. The company has a stated goal of 15 million subscribers by the end of 2027.
The company said it had $709.2 million in cash and marketable securities at the end of 2023.
Much of the news media industry is in turmoil, with publishers like The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and Business Insider laying off journalists or offering buyouts in recent months. Headwinds include a decline in readers who reach news sites through social media platforms, less user interest in news and a tough market for advertising.
Advertising was a weak spot for The Times in the fourth quarter. Total advertising revenue decreased 8.4 percent, to $164.1 million. Digital advertising fell 3.7 percent and print advertising 16.2 percent.
The number of print subscribers has continued to decline. There were 730,000 at the end of 2022 and 660,000 by the end of 2023.
The company has said it faces a growing challenge from generative artificial intelligence. Late last year, The Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft on a claim of copyright infringement, arguing that articles published by The Times were used to train automated chatbots that now compete with the news organization. OpenAI has argued that the suit is without merit, and Microsoft’s chief executive has questioned the merits of the case.