Satisfying Audiences Blog

Satisfying Audiences

How New York Times is beating Twitter, LinkedIn in the audience race

21 February 2016 · By Kevin Curnock

Twitter has a total audience of 800 million and LinkedIn more than 400 million. But both have stagnant growth while The New York Times has seen a significant jump in paid digital subscribers.

Over a one week period in early February, The New York Times, Twitter, and LinkedIn released their latest financial results.

They were perhaps surprising to some: The staid old newspaper publisher surpassed Wall Street expectations while the two purely digital companies disappointed.

What’s driving investor sentiment?

Scratching below the surface, you’ll see that it’s all about audience.

New York Times

The Old Grey Lady gave a promising update on February 4 when it released its Q4 and 2015 annual results.

From an audience perspective, the news media company is doing the right things. It grew its paying digital subscriber base by 53,000 readers. That’s the biggest quarterly gain in three years. It brings total NYT paid digital subscribership to just shy of 1.1 million. More than 50% of the newspaper’s revenue comes from consumers.

This is a good story for those who believe that journalistic content is valuable and worth paying for. As an international brand, the Times has done a fine job marketing its product. The easy sign-up process and smooth navigation of the site, as well as the breadth and depth of its content, have made the Times the first and only digital newspaper subscription for many readers. It is not growing in leaps and bounds, but it is growing.

And that’s a good sign for media companies.

The company’s stock was up after its earnings release. The results surpassed analysts’ predictions.

Twitter and LinkedIn did not fare so well.

Twitter

The tweeting company turns 10 years old in March. In its first decade, Twitter has built a massive online following. Measured as the combination of monthly average users and monthly logged-out visitors, the company boasted a total audience of 800 million in Q4 2015. The critical metric — monthly active users (MAU) — is stuck at 320 million.

Despite a robust audience of 800 million users in Q4, monthly active Twitter users has plateaued.

And since this critical metric is not growing, the stock price has been driven downward. Shares in Twitter have fallen 40% over the past three months.

And so, as The New York Times fights to eke out subscriber gains measured in the tens of thousands, Twitter fights for user gains measured in the tens of millions. (To compare, NYT does have nearly 70 million unique monthly visitors, according to comScore).

This highlights the stark difference between paid and free products. If you are going to be free, you had better be really, really big ... and growing.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is facing a similar headwind. Though the company does have a consumer paid element, the majority of its revenue comes from advertising. Like Twitter, LinkedIn depends on its ability to draw a massive audience.

And here, too, the company is struggling. Although LinkedIn has growing membership — more than 400 million members as of the end of 2015 — the number of members visiting the site monthly has remained flat. This metric, called monthly unique visiting members, was stuck at 100 million for the last two quarters.

Yes, 100 million is a large digital audience. But it is not growing. The stock was down 40% after its earning release on February 4. The Wall Street Journal called it a “bloodbath.”

Like Twitter, LinkedIn's audience is not growing.

Of course, there are many factors that drive the daily gyrations of individual stock prices, and some of those factors are nonsensical. Markets are fickle. Consider that LinkedIn and Twitter have achieved large and growing revenues while The New York Times revenue is flat (LinkedIn revenue was US$3.6 billion in 2015, Twitter was US$2.2 billion, and NYT was US$1.6 billion).

Nevertheless, audience matters. A paid audience is more valuable than a free audience (and, yes, both are better than no audience at all).

If your audience is free, it needs to be extraordinarily big and growing. You can bet that LinkedIn and Twitter will be doing everything possible to re-engage audience growth. Both will be looking to add tens of millions of users.

On the other hand, The New York Times would be pleased to add 50,000 net new paying subscribers each and every quarter.

What a difference a payment makes.


print article send to friend


blog comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

The Satisfying Audiences Blog aims to reflect print and digital content not just across platforms but extending into consumer events, non-news-related subscriptions and other audience vehicles for newsmedia companies. This blog written by INMA members is dedicated to identifying the emerging linkages between content, audiences, and platforms. The blog is an initiative by the INMA North America Division Board of Directors.


Meet the bloggers

Julie Anderson
Senior Vice President of Digital Publishing/Florida
Tribune Publishing
Orlando, Floria, USA
send message

Nadine Chevolleau
Manager
Consumer Marketing
The Toronto Star
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
send message

Kathleen Coleman
Director
Sales & Marketing
S-R Media
Spokane, Washington, USA
send message

Kevin Curnock
General Manager
Brunswick News
St. John, New Brunswick, Canada
send message

Jim Fleigner
Managing Partner
Impact Consultancy
Santa Monica, California, United States
send message

Sara Hill
President/CEO
Vividata
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
send message

Dan Johnson
Vice President,
Business Development
CirTech
Gilbert, Arizona, USA
send message

Sandy MacLeod
Chief Operating Officer, Print
The Toronto Star/Metro English
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
send message

John Newby
Publisher
Muskogee Phoenix
Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA
send message

Nicki Purcell
Chief Digital Officer and Senior Vice President of Consumer Sales
The Dallas Morning News
Dallas, Texas, USA
send message

Maria Terrell
Director of Content
PressReader
Dallas, Texas, USA
send message

New York City, New York, USA


Subscribe

RSS feed
E-newsletter


Blog archives

May 2016 ( 2 )
April 2016 ( 2 )
March 2016 ( 2 )
February 2016 ( 3 )
January 2016 ( 3 )
December 2015 ( 2 )
November 2015 ( 4 )
October 2015 ( 3 )
September 2015 ( 4 )
August 2015 ( 2 )
July 2015 ( 4 )
June 2015 ( 4 )
May 2015 ( 4 )
April 2015 ( 4 )
March 2015 ( 2 )
February 2015 ( 5 )
January 2015 ( 4 )
December 2014 ( 3 )
November 2014 ( 3 )
October 2014 ( 2 )



Blog roll

Brain Traffic
paidContent


Join INMA Today
 
Upcoming Events
Jun
17
INMA Ideas Day on Audience Development
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
17 June 2016
Aug
23
INMA International News Media Conference
São Paulo, Brazil
23-24 August 2016
Aug
30
INMA South Asia News Media Conference
New Delhi, India
30-31 August 2016
Sep
14
INMA European News Media Conference
Monaco
14-17 September 2016
Sep
22
INMA Latin American News Media Conference
Panama City, Panama
22-23 September 2016
Oct
03
INMA Business Strategies 2020 Conference
Chicago, United States
03-04 October 2016
Oct
17
INMA Silicon Valley Study Tour
San Francisco, United States
17-21 October 2016

More Events

Member Profiles

  • Susie Gray
    United States


  • Thomas Peterssohn
    Sweden


  • Shaun Higgins
    United States



  • Ajay Chabra
    India


  • Eric Hutchins
    United States


  • Joanne Casanova
    El Salvador



©2016 INMA | Home | About | Contact | RSS | Privacy