The New York Times Company said on Wednesday that it gained more than one million digital-only subscribers last year, helping to lift revenue from the year before despite headwinds facing the media industry.
The new subscribers, who do not include the roughly one million who came with the acquisition of the sports website The Athletic last February, bring The Times’s total number of paying subscribers to 9.6 million. The company has set a goal of 15 million by the end of 2027.
The company said it had added 240,000 net digital-only subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2022, for a total of 8.8 million. The company had 730,000 print subscribers, down from 795,000 a year earlier.
“It was our second-best year for net digital subscriber additions, behind only 2020,” Meredith Kopit Levien, the chief executive of The Times, said in a statement. “Importantly, with each passing quarter, we saw more proof that there is strong demand for a bundle of our news and lifestyle products,” she added.
The Times reported an adjusted operating profit of $347.9 million for 2022, a small increase from the previous year that beat the company’s estimates. Annual revenue was $2.3 billion, an 11.3 percent increase from 2021.
The company reported total revenue of $667.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2022, a 12.3 percent increase from a year earlier. Subscriptions accounted for $414.1 million, a 17.9 percent increase.
Advertising revenues were mostly flat at $179.2 million for the quarter, amid a slowdown in ad spending across the publishing industry that has led to layoff announcements at several media companies in recent weeks. The Times said digital advertising revenue came in at $111.9 million, compared with $111.1 million the previous year, while print advertising revenue increased 2.6 percent.
Because of a change in the company’s fiscal calendar, the fourth quarter had six more days than it did in 2021. Adjusted for the extra days, total revenue increased 7.2 percent while advertising revenues fell 2.4 percent.
Total operating costs increased nearly 10 percent to $548.3 million in the quarter, from $500.1 million a year earlier. The company said technology costs, which include product development, had increased 30.1 percent, while sales and marketing costs had decreased 36 percent.
The Times faces pressure from an activist investor, ValueAct, to more aggressively sell its bundled subscriptions, which include Cooking, Games and Wirecutter as well as the core digital news app. ValueAct disclosed in August that it had built a nearly 7 percent stake in The Times.
The company said it expected digital subscription revenue in the first quarter of 2023 to increase 13 to 16 percent from a year ago, though it forecast a decrease in advertising revenue.
The Athletic, which The Times bought for $550 million, continued to lose money, with an adjusted operating loss of $6.9 million in the fourth quarter. It has lost about $36 million since the acquisition. In 2021, before The Times acquired it, The Athletic lost $55 million. It generated $85.7 million in revenue in 2022, up from about $65 million the year before.
The Times announced on Wednesday that its board had approved a new $250 million Class A share repurchase program. The board approved a separate $150 million in stock buybacks last February. So far, the company has repurchased $112 million in shares.
The company also announced an increase of the quarterly dividend, to 11 cents a share, up 2 cents from the previous quarter.
Shares of The Times rose 12 percent in trading on Wednesday.