New York Times Co.’s (NYSE: NYT) digital properties moved ahead of the Washington Post’s in January, according to recent comScore research. The edge was small, however.
The comScore Top 50 Multi-Platform Properties (Desktop and Mobile) list covers both work and home online activity. In December, the property with the largest audience was Google’s sites at 247 million unique visitors. The total number of unique visitors to New York Times properties for the month was 92 million, which placed it in the 22nd position. The Washington Post took the 33rd position with 78 million.
Among other print media properties, the Time Inc. (NYSE: TIME) network (U.S.) had 129 million unique visitors, which put it in 10th place. The USA Today Network, part of Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI), had 106 million, which put it in 16th.
The unique visitor data only tells part of the story. Visitors yield digital advertising dollars. However, the amount of these has not offset drops in print revenue. This means that newspapers have moved into a race to get paid digital subscribers. The results have been mixed. The New York Times had 1,853,000 at the end of 2016. Most newspaper chains have only a fraction of that. According to Gannett’s fourth-quarter statement: “Digital-only subscriptions grew 71.1%; digital-only plus Sunday grew 62.4%, topping 200,000 for the first time.” Some publishers have even broken out their digital businesses as independent groups to press for both online advertising. The most recent of these among large publishers is Tronc Inc. (NASDAQ: TRNC), which owns the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. It calls the new division troncX.
While size matters in terms of online traffic, paid online subscriptions have become just as important.