New York Times Experiences Growing Pains With The Athletic

    • The Athletic lost $6.8 million in the first two months since it was acquired by The New York Times.
    • The Times paid $550 million to acquire the sports subscription site earlier this year.

As expected, The Athletic has brought subscriber growth to The New York Times — at a fairly significant cost.

The sports news site lost $6.8 million in February and March after the $550 million acquisition closed earlier this year, which led The Times Company’s first-quarter adjusted operating profits, reported Wednesday, to dip 10.5% to $60.9 million. Operating profits were $68.1 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Making The Athletic Profitable  

The Times inched closer to its goal of 15 million subscribers by the close of 2027 as the 1.1 million Athletic subscribers boosted its paid-subscriber count to 9.1 million, according to the company. 

  • The Athletic was founded in 2016 with an ad-free subscription model. Meredith Kopit Levien, president and CEO of the New York Times Company, told analysts on Wednesday that the company has “begun to lay the groundwork for introducing an array of advertising products to The Athletic later in the year.”
  • The Times will introduce a bundled subscription with The Athletic “in the back half of this year,” Levien said. 
  • The Athletic lost $55 million on about $65 million in revenue in 2021, and the changes implemented by The Times will result in “a slight reduction in operating losses” this year, according to NYT executive vice president and CFO Roland A. Caputo.

Meanwhile, Wordle — the online word game acquired by the Times in the first quarter in the “low seven figures” range — has been a hit. 

“Wordle brought an unprecedented tens of millions of new users to The Times,”  Levien said.