Former Director at The New York Times Co
- The New York Times' (NYSE: NYT) operating environment – coronavirus impacts on subscriber and advertising revenues
- Analysis of advertising vs subscription on overall customer LTV (lifetime value)
- 2020 political cycle opportunity
- Outlook for 2020 and beyond – long-term subscriber upside and new management strategies
Could you give an overview of The New York Times’ operating environment? What key trends and drivers are impacting the market?
Do you think a lot of the focus on The Times’ paywall is coupled with the fundamentally negative advertising environment due to the coronavirus? Could newspaper advertising have an L-shaped recovery?
Do you have any concerns around subscription fatigue, given we live in an increasingly D2C world across newspapers, streaming apps, etc? Do you think the average individual is paying for The Times as well as other news outlets? How might that impact long-term retention?
You mentioned your previous involvement with how The Times approaches the role of print in the digital market. Should we expect print to last over the next decade in any form close to its current one?
Could a decent proportion of the highly loyal print customers be commuters or in-office drop-offs? Could the remote-work shift present a potentially high churn risk for those subscriptions?
Would you say The Times is actively thinking about who it’s competing with the most for listenership and readership? Would you say its competitors are the traditional publishers? Could they increasingly be other digital mediums? How might The Times approach its competitive advantages, if its thinking is increasingly digital-focused?
Do you have any further comments on The Times’ positioning and the threats or opportunities it’s likely to face in the next few years? Are there any core parts of the business model we’ve yet to highlight?
It seems as if US President Trump’s administration is a leading readership driver for The Times, but the coronavirus and Black Lives Matter might also be factors. Do you think the readership levels driven by health crises and social injustice are also finding a net-new plateau, or reverting to the mean? Could these issues contribute enough readership to offset the improved plateau from the Trump Bump?
You discussed how effective the pay model can be. How should we think about the LTV [lifetime value] constituents that play into that? Is it about how many months or years subscribers have been on the platform as much as the consumption curve, and how frequently they’re consuming The Times’ content? What levers could The Times optimise to drive that value? How much price could the company take on upgrades?
Could the upgrades have to be driven by including value-add products in the packages? Would subscribers being on the paywall for 2-3 years be long enough for them to accept a price hike to USD 17 per month or USD 29 per year? Are upgrades simply by tenure enough?
Do you think The Times is testing the waters with the price increases as opposed to the company announcing a belief that they have reached an inflection point where it can charge more for the product?
The Times recently discussed how it’s been able to keep churn rates stable at 1%. Churn for streaming apps – which are priced monthly at around the higher point The Times is testing – is in the 30-40% range. Do you have any early thoughts on the retention risk from the price increases? How adverse could the reaction be?
The coronavirus seems to have been a tailwind for The Times’ organic growth. The company’s sales and marketing costs have fallen 36%, largely driven by the media spend. Would you say The Times is a destination source for news? If so, could this be a long-term trend? Could The Times have to return to sales and marketing investments, given our discussion of the slightly increasing competition? Has the business derived long-term improvements on CAC from the coronavirus?
How might The Times’ most attractive customer acquisition channels evolve, in light of the discontinuation from the Apple News channel app and the upcoming iOS 14 effect? These shifts might impact how the business pursues customers via mobile channels. How might The Times’ approach to media spend change?
How do you expect The Daily podcast to evolve as part of The Times’ business? I think podcasts are a nascent but very high-momentum monetisation opportunity for information providers. We touched on podcasts as a value-add service for increasing subscription prices, but is there anything else you’re monitoring as The Daily grows in importance for The Times’ overall strategy?
Do you have any closing remarks on The New York Times?
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