Snapshot Of The New York Times Business Model

The New York Times made over $1.6 billion in revenues in 2017. Its monetization strategies based on both subscription (both print and digital) and advertising (both print and digital). NY Times has successfully managed to shift its business model over subscription over the years. As of 2017, subscriptions contribute more than advertising to its revenue generation. The subscription revenues primarily based on print have also been slowing down, while digital subscriptions have increased substantially. The NY Times is shifting toward a digital subscription business model.

How does The New York Times make money?

As a global media organization that “focuses on creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information” the company’s principal business consists of distributing content across its digital, print platforms and in small part to third-party platforms. The New York Times monetizes its content in two simples ways:

  • subscriptions: both printed and digital
  • advertising: display, classified and others

Let’s give a quick look at The New York Times business model.

Subscription-based strategy driven by a freemium model

The New York Times offers users free access to a set number of articles per month until it shows a paywall requesting users to join the platform for a basic subscription fee, that can initially be as low as $1 per week:


The content gets distributed across print and digital. In 2017 NYTimes had about 3.6 paid subscribers to print and digital. Digital-only subscribers were over 2.6 million.

At the same time in 2017, NYTimes had an average print circulation of about 540,000 for weekday (Monday to Friday) and 1,066,000 for Sunday.

How The NYTimes subscription-based business model is evolving

Over the years NYTimes has shifted its business model toward a subscription. Indeed, the revenues coming from subscriptions surpassed those coming from advertising. This is a massive and vital change, as publishers have for over a century lived off advertising revenues.

It is important to notice that the most significant portion of subscription revenue is still based on the print newspaper. However, as the competition with digital formats has increased, NYTimes is also emphasizing on its digital-only subscription.

NYTimes advertising revenue model 

With a comprehensive portfolio of advertising products and services provided across print, web and mobile platforms the advertising revenues comprises three main sources:

Display Advertising

The New York Times had the largest market share in 2017 in print advertising revenue among national newspapers (compared to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Times, as reported by MediaRadar). an independent agency that measures advertising sales volume and estimates advertising revenue.

  • Display advertising comprises
  • banners
  • video
  • rich media
  • other interactive ads
  • branded content

Classified and Other Advertising

Classified advertising includes line ads sold in the major categories of real estate, help wanted, automotive and other. In print,

Classified advertising comprises three major types: real estate, help wanted, and automotive. Those pay on a per-line basis. While on the web or mobile platforms the pay is on per listing base, which can be mixed as an add-on to the print ad.

In 2017, digital and print classified and other advertising represented approximately 13% of NYTimes advertising revenues.

Other businesses part of the NYTimes galaxy

As reported on NYTimes financial statements:

Other revenues primarily consist of revenues from news services/syndication, digital archive licensing, building rental income, affiliate referrals, NYT Live (our live events business) and retail commerce. Digital other revenues consists primarily of digital archive licensing revenue and affiliate referral revenue. Building rental income consists of revenue from the lease of floors in our New York headquarters building, which totaled $16.7 million, $17.1 million and $16.9 million in 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively

NY Times distribution strategy


It is interesting to notice the massive reach NYTimes has been able to build over the web. In short, it is the case in which a player from the printed mastered the digital world as well. With a site, that according to Similar Web estimates has more than three hundred million visits per month


The marketing mix shows directly as the primary source. This implies a strong brand recognision. The company advertising expense to promote the brand, subscription products, and marketing services were $118.6 million in 2017, compared to $89.8 million in 2016.

Reference data: NYTimes Annual Report 2017

Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"

Leave a Reply