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NYTimes.com daily users surpass paper’s weekday circulation

by henrycopeland
Thursday, October 10th, 2002

Daily visits to NYTimes.com hit new highs in September, with an average of 1.28 million unique users visiting the site each day, Craig Calder, New York Times Digital VP for marketing, told me yesterday.

The September tally represents a 10% jump over the previous high of 1.16 million in October 2001. (See graph below.)

The jump in daily users puts the site’s daily readership solidly beyond the newspaper’s 1.2 million weekday circulation. An average of 1.3 million unique daily users is projected for October, Calder said. Summer months are always slow, he said.

I talked to Calder because I had been looking at the site’s published traffic figures, which ran only through August. These suggested that the site had hit a ceiling around 1.1 million unique daily users. This would have correlated with the sideways drift in US Internet user figures.

Figuring I could either blog “the plateau’ or do some fact checking, I decided to contact New York Times Digital. If traditional media can interview bloggers, why not vice versa?

NYTDigital spokesperson Christine Mohan put me in touch with Calder, who delivered the numbers. Calder attributed the growth both to increased value delivered to the site’s pool of registered users and to the public’s demand for reliable information in stressful times.

Cannibalization is not an issue, says Calder. On the contrary, the site is ‘critical to newspaper’s growth in national markets and younger user groups,’ he said.

‘As a whole, the newspaper industry is challenged by fact that readers are getting older and aren’t reaching a whole generation brought up on AOL and CNN. We’ve been extremely successful in offsetting this,’ Calder said.

The paper’s typical reader is 45, while the site’s average reader is 35, said Calder. And while 85% of the website’s users come from outside the New York designated marketing area, 44% of the daily’s readers are inside the area.

Since January, NYTDigital has been examining the overlap between site users and the newspaper’s readership and found that only 8% of site users are also print subscribers.

Growth in daily usage of the site comes because NYTimes.com is wringing more visits from its pool of nearly 11 million registered users, said Calder. A year ago, NYTimes.com aspired to attain an 18% retention rate, meaning that 18% of the site’s total registered users visited the site at least once in a given month. Today, retention is 30%, Calder said.

The site generated 85,000 new home delivery starts in 2001, up from 25,000 in 2000. Through September 30 this year, the site generated another 58,000. (My calculator annualizes that to 77,000.)

I’ll type up more notes on this later.


(Note: After I posted, Christine Mohan supplied new information about print reader median age and footprint. I’ve updated the copy above.)

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