How The Daily podcast is helping the New York Times drive advertising and subscription growth

The New York Times’ flagship podcast The Daily attracts 4m listeners a day, and is “almost twice as large as the paper was at its peak”, the company’s new chief executive has revealed.

Meredith Kopit Levien said The Daily “drives affinity” with listeners and is boosting the NYT’s brand, especially among younger people.

Presenting the Times’ third-quarter results on Thursday, Kopit Levien – who took over from Mark Thompson as CEO in September – said the podcast is driving “continued resilience” in its audio advertising business.

“The Daily has become a very significant way that people engage with the Times,” she said.  

The New York Times has made a significant investment into audio media in recent years. As well as building up The Daily into one of the world’s best-known podcasts, the company recently bought Serial Productions, reportedly for around $25m.

Kopit Levien spoke confidently on Thursday about the prospects of the audio division and its ability to make significant revenue from advertising.

“What I would say on audio is that’s a place where we think there’s going to be real demand at high CPM for some time to come, and our product set is expanding,” she said.

“And it’s expanding because The Daily keeps expanding, the audience keeps growing, and it’s a media product. As the audience grows, there’s more high CPM advertising to sell… So I think audio will be something to watch in our ad business for some time to come.”

Asked by an analyst about the benefits of The Daily’s success, Kopit Levien added: “It’s helpful to driving affinity to the brand. It’s harder to track directly how it drops people into the core news subscription funnel, but we have every reason to believe it does, given how our results have improved… in the four years now that we’ve had The Daily.”

On The Daily’s “huge audience”, she said: “The thing that’s remarkable to me about The Daily’s audience is that’s like almost twice as large as the paper was at its peak – and it’s only four years old.

“And it’s got an audience with the vast majority much younger than, say, the traditional audience of the newspaper.”

She said the “vast majority” of listeners are under 50, with “many, many people under 40″, adding: ” So that tends to bring in a younger audience of people who now have an affinity for the New York Times.”

The New York Times’ third-quarter results also revealed that it currently has more than 7m subscriptions, of which more than 6m are digital-only. This has been an area of focus for the company in recent years.

However, as advertising and other areas of the business suffered under Covid-19, the New York Times Company’s revenue fell 0.4% to $426.9m in the quarter. Its share price fell by around 5% in the day.

News Corp, which reported its quarterly results later in the day on Thursday, reported a revenue fall of 10% to $2.1bn, though this was largely attributed to the sale of its News America Marketing business.

Subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal, a rival to the New York Times, were up 19% year-on-year to 3.1m during the quarter. Its digital-only subscriptions were up 27% on the previous year to 2.35m.

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