Is there any circumstance in which the New York Times would feel good about losing readers? Yes!
“This is a result of the strategic decision,” wrote Times President Scott Heekin-Canedy in an in-house memo last night. The decline—down 3.5% percent in circulation numbers released on Monday—is suggested to be entirely attributable to replacing “our ‘two weeks free’ promotion with our traditional 50% offer” and to a price bump back in February.
The memo goes on to note that the Times beats everyone in the ‘key Manhattan market’ (is that the same as Manhattan?) and that NYTimes.com is the ‘largest’ newspaper-owned Web site (which presumably means most-visited). The memo follows.
To: NY TIMES INTERNET, NY TIMES NOTES
Date: Oct 31, 2006 5:34 PM
Subject: Memo from Scott Heekin-Canedy
Yesterday, the most recent circulation results for The New York Times and other newspapers were released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
As we expected, The Times posted a modest decline (-3.5%) in our daily and Sunday circulation, the first in several years. This is a result of the strategic decision we made to focus our efforts on the paid circulation that advertisers value most. For example, we recently replaced our “two weeks free” promotion with our traditional 50% offer. In addition, we also had a modest price increase in February.
We believe these actions will enable us to sustain our circulation in a more financially prudent fashion, enhance customer loyalty and provide our advertisers with the circulation quality they expect. Our strategy is, in fact, working: our individual paid circulation, a key indicator of circulation quality, remains at 87%, one of the highest in the industry.
Our daily circulation is now 1,086,798; Sunday circulation is 1,623,697. You should know that our audience remains strong. Our home delivery circulation, thanks to national expansion, continues to be stable. You should also know that our circulation in the key Manhattan market is stronger than all the competition. Finally, our digital leadership is unparalleled in the newspaper community. NYTimes.com is the largest newspaper-owned Web site in the world.
We will continue to monitor and manage our profitable circulation growth in the context of our overall strategy objectives.