Last Thursday, The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) reported that its subscriber-first strategy was successful during the third quarter of 2018. At the end of the third quarter, The New York Times had more than 3 million digital subscribers and 4 million total subscribers. This strategy helped the company bring in 203,000 total net new digital-only subscribers in the third quarter, and subscription revenue represented close to two-thirds of the company’s total revenue. Of the 203,000 new subscribers, 143,000 came from news and the balance came from NYT Cooking and Crossword.
Everything’s coming up Apples, or so it would seem looking at this week’s subscription headlines. In addition to Apple’s success with the news app and its plans to launch its own streaming TV service in 2019, MoviePass's owner is spinning off the company to be its own public company, MoviePass Entertainment Holdings. Also this week, Fox Nation is premiering this month, digital news startup Scroll is already expanding and it hasn’t even launched yet, and publishers are abandoning Snapchat’s sinking ship.
Last week, AT&T (NYSE: T) reported its first full quarter as the new owner of Time Warner. Overall, the third quarter was solid with growth in revenue and earnings, but stock dipped after the financials were initially released on October 24. AT&T reported consolidated revenue for the third quarter of 2018 of $45.7 billion, a 15.3 percent increase over the same period last year. The increase is primarily due to the company’s acquisition of Time Warner.
NBC News is the latest media outlet to join the streaming video ranks. Last Wednesday, NBC News announced it would launch Signal, a 24-7 streaming news network by the middle of next year. In addition to streaming Signal online at NBCNews.com, Signal will be available on TV apps, on YouTube, Twitter, PlutoTV and in bundled online channels. NBC News didn’t give a specific launch date but said the network would start broadcasting 24-7 in mid-2019. It is currently offering some programming now on NBCNews.com, in two NBC News apps and a few other platforms.
Multi-channel commerce platform Shopify (NYSE: SHOP)(TSX: SHOP) posted solid financials for the third quarter of 2018, including total revenue of $270.1 million, representing 58 percent growth year-over-year. Subscription Solutions was a big driver of that growth with revenue of $120.5 million, a 46 percent increase over the third quarter of 2017. Other financial highlights for the quarter include:
Another streaming video subscription service has been struck down. Last week, AT&T-owned WarnerMedia announced that it will shut down FilmStruck in the U.S. and abroad on November 29, 2018. The service has already stopped accepting new subscriptions for the service. Turner Classic Movies launched the over-the-top TV subscription service in late 2016, featuring a rotating selection of more than 1,800 independent, art-house and international films like “A Hard Day’s Night,” “A Room with a View” and the original “Mad Max.” Earlier this year, Warner Bros. added classic films to the list.
Last Thursday, Amazon [NASDAQ: AMZN] reported net sales of $56.6 billion, a 29 percent increase year-over-year, in the third quarter for the period ended September 30, 2018. For the same period last year, Amazon reported $43.7 billion. The company reported net income of $2.9 billion for the third quarter, or $5.75 per diluted share, compared to $256 million, or $0.52 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2017.
In this week’s subscription news, scammers are stealing Apple IDs using a fake Spotify email, the Kansas City Star bumps up annual subscriptions to $846, and Cheddar expands its local footprint with a CUNY TV deal. Also in the headlines this week, Lena Dunham shuts down her three-year-old Lenny newsletter, Netflix looks at cheaper subscription pricing in India, and SiriusXM and Amazon team up to offer freebies with the Echo Dot.
Last week, The Economist unveiled a new look – a revamped print edition with a modern design that shares the look and feel of The Economist’s apps, website and 1843 magazine. Starting with its October 20 edition, the new design includes new typefaces optimized for their respective platforms, a larger cover masthead, bolder imagery, revised table of contents page, bold styles and revamped infographics and cartographics, among other changes.
Microsoft Corp. [NASDAQ: MSFT] came out of the gate strong in the first quarter of its fiscal year 2019, for the period ended September 30, 2018. The Redmond, Washington-based company reported revenue of $29.1 billion, an increase of 19 percent year-over-year, operating income of $10.0 billion, an increase of 29 percent year-over-year, and net income of $8.8 billion, a 34 percent increase year-over-year, and diluted earnings per share of $1.14, a 36 percent increase year-over-year.
Loot Crate, a fan-focused subscription box marketplace, is getting in the gaming business. Last week, Loot Crate announced the launch of Loot Play, a monthly digital gaming subscription for independently-developed PC games. Starting at $10 a month, Loot Play subscribers will receive five curated, high-quality indie games, including a featured title, delivered digitally on the 17th or 18th of each month. The remaining four games will be a mystery. An Active Steam account is required to redeem the codes necessary to play the games. Loot Play is currently only available to customers in the U.S.
Last week, Spotify (NYSE: SPOT) upgraded the user experience for Spotify Premium subscribers, creating a more personal intuitive experience. The streaming music platform began rolling out the changes to Spotify Premium subscribers on iOS and Android last Thursday. The changes include: Spotify has streamlined navigation by reducing its five navigation buttons to three: Home, Search and My Library to help subscribers find their favorite songs, artists, albums, podcasts and playlists faster.
Media consolidation continues as Hearst announces their acquisition of seven weekly newspapers from Hersam Acorn Newspapers, LLC in Fairfield County, Connecticut. The deal includes the print and digital assets of The Ridgefield Press, The Wilton Bulletin, New Canaan Advertisers, The Darien Times, The Shelton Herald, The Trumbull Times and The Milford Mirror. The newspapers will join the Hearst Connecticut Media Group which currently includes eight daily newspapers including New Haven Register, Connecticut Post, Greenwich Time, Stamford Advocate and The Norwalk Hour and 20 weekly newspapers.
In this week’s subscription headlines, Sky baits binge watchers with a loyalty scheme and Netflix subscriptions, Facebook purges more than 800 publishers accounts for political spam, and the Boston Globe hits a subscription milestone. Also this week, Porsche sees success with its subscription service and considers expanding, publishers report growth in their tests with Amazon Pay, and Google (finally) shuts down Google+.
Earlier this week, The New York Times and Scribd announced they were teaming up to provide readers with what they’re calling the “ultimate subscription bundle.” For $12.99 a month, subscribers get unlimited digital access to NYTimes.com, The New York Times Digital Archive and the The Times’ app, as well as access to Scribd’s library of more than 1 million books, audiobooks, articles, news and magazines. The subscription is available to new subscribers only, and the monthly subscription fee begins after a 30-day free trial. There is no long-term commitment, and subscribers can cancel at any time.