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What Recovery? N.Y. Times Earnings Fall 58%

The New York Times released its first-quarter earnings yesterday and the results showed that the the economic recovery hasn’t reached the newspaper industry.

Total revenues declined 4%  from the first quarter of 2010 and circulation decreased by the same amount, thus continuing the erosion of the print newspaper that has been going on for several years now.

Advertising revenues, which accounts for 38% of total revenues, slid 7.5% which accounted for a large portion of the earnings slide.

The Times did give a glimpse of how their new paywall was going, reporting that it has attracted 100,000 subscribers in the first three weeks since its enactment. If it can hold these numbers or improve them it could possibly add $20 million or more to the paper’s revenues.

But while the numbers look impressive on the surface, the paper didn’t reveal how many of the subscribers signed up for the 99-cents-a-week promotion that lasts for just one month and it is yet to see its first renewal period.

Also, the Times did report that it expects to incur $13 million in expenses for the rest of the year related to the paywall, which means that combined with estimates of the start-up costs that have reached as high as $30 million, the paywall will likely not generate any net profits for the  company.

As long as the ad slump continues and until the paywall actually starts contributing to the bottom line — and there is no guarantee that will ever occur — the Times will continue its downward slide to irrelevance and oblivion.