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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The Athletic Cuts Down Losses, But NYT’s Internal Strife Growing  

  • Revenue and subscribers grow, as bundle offer achieves additional traction
  • Staffers roiled by Times sports desk closure
New York Times
Jens Schott Knudsen

The Athletic is making increased strides toward profitability — but continues to create organizational turmoil for its parent company, The New York Times.

The Times said Tuesday that The Athletic’s adjusted operating losses during the second quarter shrank to $7.8 million from $12.6 million year-over-year, and from a loss of $11.3 million in 2023’s first quarter.

The improved financial performance was due in part to a 55.3% rise in revenue to $30.4 million, as the Times achieved additional traction among consumers with its bundle subscription offer combining the newspaper and The Athletic. More than 3.6 million subscribers can access The Athletic either through the bundle or a standalone subscription, up from 3.3 million in the first quarter and 1.7 million a year ago.

“Our second-quarter results confirm our view that our essential subscription strategy is working as designed, with momentum in several key areas,” said NYT Co. president and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien.

The $11.3 million first-quarter loss for The Athletic is a recast figure from a previously reported $7.8 million loss, as the Times updated its methodology for allocating bundle revenue and expenses. The Athletic has yet to turn a profit.

Staff Unrest

The Times’ recent decision to shutter its sports desk and handle coverage with non-union staffers from The Athletic — now the subject of a formal labor grievance — has led to further disruption.

A recent meeting between Times staffers and newspaper chairman and publisher AG Sulzberger reportedly ended with the executive turning a “deaf ear” to their complaints.

“[Sulzberger] murdered the sports desk,” a staffer said, according to the New York Post.

The ongoing dispute wasn’t referenced in either the Times’ earnings report or its call with analysts.

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