Monday, April 26, 2010

More Grim News for the NY Times

The former paper of record has been hemorrhaging ad revenue and readership for some time now and it's about to get a lot worse.

I'm truly crestfallen.
Wall Street is bracing for the New York Times to get bloodied in an ad war with The Wall Street Journal, which is spoiling for a fight after launching its local metro section today.

The Journal's "Greater New York" -- a mix of politics, real estate, crime, society and sports coverage -- is giving advertisers a new alternative for targeting the New York market. The section will run six times a week and range from eight to 12 pages.

While the Journal has been reinventing itself as a more general interest publication, the metro section will be the first direct competition the Times has faced from another broadsheet in years. "If you're the only one in the pool and someone jumps in, you're going to lose water," said Edward Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Co. "The question is how much."
During a conference call to discuss earnings last week, a Times executive acknowledged its new competitor for the New York market but played down the threat.

"We're seeing pressure, but we don't believe it's so far having any effect on our business," said Scott Heekin-Canedy, the paper's president. "Some of the rates that are out there from the Journal are deeply discounted."

The Journal, part of News Corp.'s Dow Jones unit, waves off claims of undercutting the competition. (News Corp. also owns The Post.)

"Competitors have been accusing each other of rate cutting since the beginning of time," said Michael Rooney, the Journal's chief revenue officer. "The simple fact is that the Times' ad revenue is down 12 percent and our print ad revenue is up 25 percent in the latest quarter."

Shares of the Times Co. fell for a second day on Friday, dropping 68 cents, or 5.5 percent, to $11.61. On Thursday, the company reported first-quarter results that showed ad declines were easing but that the market had not yet hit bottom.
Meanwhile, newspaper circulation continues on the downward spiral. Except for the WSJ.
Circulation continues to drop at U.S. newspapers.

Figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations show average weekday circulation fell 8.7 percent in the six months that ended March 31, compared with the same period a year earlier.

Sunday circulation fell 6.5 percent.

Neither decline was as steep as the comparable one documented in the last reporting period. From April through September of last year, average weekday circulation dropped 10.6 percent and Sunday circulation fell 7.5 percent.

Even so, the top 25 newspapers in the country showed some huge losses.

The San Diego Union-Tribune's weekday circulation dropped nearly 23 percent from the year before to 241,330.

At The Washington Post, average circulation fell 13.1 percent during the week to 578,482 and 8.2 percent to 797,679 on Sunday.

USA Today lost 13.6 percent of its circulation and averaged 1.83 million. That extended a slump that began with a slowdown in travel during the recession, which trimmed sales where USA Today is especially popular, such as hotels and airports.

USA Today's decline last year allowed The Wall Street Journal to surpass it as the newspaper with the biggest U.S. circulation. In Monday's report, the Journal once again posted the only gain in circulation among the top 25 newspapers that had comparable figures from a year ago. It grew its circulation 0.5 percent to 2.09 million. The Journal can count online readers because it charges them to read its website, while most newspapers can only count print subscriptions and newsstand sales.

The Journal is also looking to put itself further ahead of the No. 3 newspaper, The New York Times, which saw an 8.5 percent decline in weekday circulation during the most recent period and a 5.2 percent drop on Sundays. The Times' average circulation was 951,063 on weekdays and 1.38 million on Sundays.

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