订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业

老牌报媒如何决胜数字时代?请看《纽约时报》的最新战略

Mathew Ingram 2017年02月14日

《纽约时报》在2013年还能实现15亿美元的营业收入,而去年仅有8亿美元,这家老牌传统媒体到了不得不改变的时候。

继2014年发布“创新报告”之后,《纽约时报》推出了该报告的2020年版本,探讨该报在数字时代获得成功的策略,其中的关键看来在于加大订阅业务投入,退出在线浏览量竞赛,减少对其他平台的依赖。

贯穿2014年那份报告的一个主题是,《纽约时报》担心BuzzFeed、Vox和《赫芬顿邮报》等纯数字出版机构进一步扩大领先优势并且更加灵活,以及它们的数字流量和读者群体超过《纽约时报》的预期。

该报告认为,《纽约时报》“在一个重要环节落后了,那就是向读者推送新闻的艺术和科学。我们一直关注自身工作的覆盖面和影响,但在破解数字时代密码方面我们做得还不够。”报告进而指出,《纽约时报》需要采取“高明的新策略来扩大读者群。”

不同于2014年的报告,2020年“创新报告”的一大关注点是让读者为《纽约时报》的新闻付费,而不仅仅是同BuzzFeed和Vox这些新媒体争夺流量。这在一定程度上是因为《纽约时报》执行主编迪恩·巴奎认为该报已经获得胜利。他在致员工的备忘录中写道:“今天,那些最强大的竞争对手……都开始追赶我们。”

2020年“创新报告”撰写团队负责人、《纽约时报》旗下数据新闻垂直门户The Upshot创始人大卫·莱恩哈特在推特上总结说,这份新报告的要点之一就是《纽约时报》“不打算去赢得浏览量军备竞赛,也不打算刊登牺牲点击量的低利润广告。”报告暗示,《纽约时报》将把这些留给纯数字媒体和Facebook。

《纽约时报》不打算去赢得浏览量军备竞赛,也不打算刊登牺牲点击量的低利润广告。

——大卫·莱恩哈特

曾先后负责《纽约时报》与《卫报》数字战略的阿隆·费尔霍夫指出,两份创新报告的差别在于侧重点从受众转移到了订阅,这就意味着《纽约时报》的经营思路更清晰,这是好事。但专注于能付月费的用户也意味着,《纽约时报》可能要逐步放弃一部分读者。

从财务角度看,为较少的付费读者服务显然说得通,但广告支持的数字媒体模式已经让高质量新闻的覆盖面变得大得多。应该说这创造了影响范围更广的公共或社会价值。同时,《纽约时报》等媒体希望树立通过新闻让公众获益的形象。

2020年“创新报告”并未提到《纽约时报》将放弃“计数制”,或者说可渗透付费墙模式。这种模式允许人们每月免费读10篇报道。但如果形势变差,《纽约时报》看来有可能向服务付费客户倾斜,而不是免费读者。

改变业务重心的主要原因是在线广告的急剧滑坡,后者基本上已经成为最低层次需求,或者由程序化广告主导的大批量业务。这样的模式适合谷歌和Facebook这类大众平台,它们占据了数字广告的大部分增长。

2012年以来《纽约时报》收入的突出变化:消费者带来的收入上升,广告收入则下降。

——CNN社交内容团队高级撰稿人布莱恩·莱斯

但即便以付费读者为主也不足以让《纽约时报》停下削减成本的脚步。该报称目前拥有超过150万付费客户。尽管订阅业务一直强劲增长,但仍不足以抵消印刷类广告业务持续快速下滑的影响。

虽然《纽约时报》称订阅读者(包括实体和电子报纸)带来约8亿美元收入,但这仍比2006年的广告收入低30%。尽管去年《纽约时报》数字业务收入约为5亿美元,高于2014年的4亿美元,但其2020年的目标是8亿美元——按当前增长速度计算需要六年才能达到这个目标。此外,该报的营业成本仍超过10亿美元。

《纽约时报》表示,计划削减成本的领域之一是编辑工作——在一个以印刷为核心的企业中,编辑流程的设计存在多层冗余。巴奎在备忘录中就裁员发出了警告,他说:“《纽约时报》将取消新闻报道在编辑之间流转,而每位编辑都做不太大改动的做法将不复存在。”但他没有透露裁员人数以及将在哪里实施。

《纽约时报》还表示,打算减少新闻数量,同时推出能更好地服务于读者的报道。2020年“创新报告”指出,该报有太多文章是“更新而成,和免费的竞争对手新闻几乎毫无二致,[或是]没什么时效性的特写和专栏文章[以及]文字密集,采用官方措辞,没能厘清重要主题,让年轻读者感到陌生的报道。”

我们都做了太多实实在在的工作,却没有明确付费新闻的标准。

——大卫·莱恩哈特,2017年1月17日

但整体来看,无论是好还是坏,《纽约时报》看来都要承认别人已经赢得了读者争夺战,或者至少有可能获胜。这应该让《华盛顿邮报》感到高兴,因为一段时间以来它一直宣称自己的在线读者人数和《纽约时报》相当,甚至胜出一筹。

虽然设了付费墙,但《华盛顿邮报》还加大了数字业务上的投入,推出了旨在迅速推送热门报道(包括一些失实报道)的新功能。它采用了平台策略,比如Facebook专为移动设备推出的Instant Articles格式,这种格式的文章都放在Facebook的服务器上。《华盛顿邮报》最近表示,2016年实现盈利,尽管其所有者、亚马逊首席执行官杰夫·贝佐斯说他预计今后几年《华盛顿邮报》将处于“投资模式”。

与此同时,《纽约时报》去年1-9月出现亏损——部分源于裁员成本。虽然数字业务收入不断上升,但整体收入出现滑坡。去年《纽约时报》的收入约为8亿美元,低于2013年的逾15亿美元。2005年,当时拥有《波士顿环球报》和原创内容生活网站About.com的《纽约时报》公司实现收入30多亿美元,利润几乎达到3亿美元。(财富中文网)

作者:Mathew Ingram

译者:Charlie

In a follow-up to the "Innovation Report" it released in 2014, the New York Times has published what it calls the 2020 Report, a look at the newspaper's strategy for success in a digital age. The key to that success appears to be doubling down on its subscription business, and leaving the online pageview race and dependence on platforms to others.

One theme that ran through the 2014 report was the fear that digital-only publishers like BuzzFeed, Vox, and The Huffington Post were farther ahead and more nimble than the Times was—and that therefore they were getting more digital traffic and a larger audience than the paper thought was its due.

The Innovation Report said the Times was "falling behind in a critical area: the art and science of getting our journalism to readers. We have always cared about the reach and impact of our work, but we haven't done enough to crack that code in the digital era." The report went on to say that the paper needed to pursue "smart new strategies for growing our audience."

By contrast, one of the defining concerns of the 2020 Report is getting people to pay for the Times' journalism, rather than just competing for traffic with places like BuzzFeed and Vox. In part, that's because executive editor Dean Baquet argues that the paper has won. "Today, the most robust of our competitors... are chasing our lead," he said in a memo to Times staffers.

David Leonhardt, the creator of The Upshot—a data journalism-driven vertical within the Times—and leader of the team that produced the current report, said in a Twitter summary that one of the major points of the report is that the Times "isn't trying to win a pageviews arms race and sell low-margin ads against the clicks." This, the report implies, will be left to its digital-only competitors and to Facebook (fb).

10/ @nytimes isn't trying to win a pageviews arms race and sell low-margin ads against the clicks.

- David Leonhardt

Aron Pilhofer, former head of digital strategy at both the Times and The Guardian, said this difference between the two reports—the focus on subscriptions rather than audience—means the Times is being more clear-minded about its business, and that this is a good thing. But focusing on those who can pay a monthly fee also means that over time, the Times may be giving up some of its broader reach.

Serving a smaller group of paying subscribers clearly makes financial sense, but the ad-supported digital model has allowed high-quality journalism to reach a much larger number of people, something that arguably has a broader public or social value. And media outlets such as the Times like to hold themselves up as providing a public benefit through their journalism.

The 2020 Report doesn't say the Times is going to give up on its "metered" or permeable pay-wall model, which allows people to read 10 articles a month for free. But if push comes to shove, it sounds like the paper will lean towards serving its paying subscribers rather than the free ones.

The main reason for the change in focus is the rapid decline of the online-advertising model, which has become primarily a lowest-common-denominator or commodity business that is dominated by programmatic advertising. That model caters to massive platforms such as Google and Facebook, which account for the lion's share of the growth in digital ads.

Notable shift in @nytimes revenue ~2012: consumers picking up where advertising has dropped https://t.co/EMbIWTzgHW pic.twitter.com/3ArNQC1Hpw

- Brian Ries

But even a focus on paying readers won't be enough to stop a wave of cost-cutting at the Times. While the growth of the paper's subscription business has been strong—it says it currently has more than 1.5 million paying subscribers—the reality is that this still isn't enough to make up for the ongoing rapid decline in print-advertising revenue.、

Although the company says it brings in about $800 million from subscribers (both print and digital), that's still 30% less than it made from advertising as recently as 2006. And while the Times made about $500 million in digital revenue last year, up from $400 million in 2014, its target for 2020 is to bring in $800 million, something that would take six years at its current rate. And the paper's operating costs are still greater than $1 billion.

One area where the Times says it plans to cut spending is the amount of editing it does, a process that it says was designed for many layers of redundancy in a print-centric enterprise. "Gone will be the old Times practice of shuffling stories from editor to editor, with each copy editor making relatively insignificant changes to each story." Baquet warned of layoffs in his memo, although he didn't say how many or where.

The Times also says it wants to do fewer stories, and ones that are better equipped to serve readers. Too many stories are "incremental news stories that are little different from what can be found in the freely available competition [or] features and columns with little urgency [and] stories written in a dense, institutional language that fails to clarify important subjects and feels alien to younger readers," the report says.

13/ We all do too many things that are solid but don't clear the bar of 'journalism worth paying for.'

- David Leonhardt (@DLeonhardt) January 17, 2017

But the bigger picture is that for better or worse, the Times appears to be conceding that others have won the audience-reach war, or at least are likely to do so. That should make the Washington Post happy because it has been bragging for some time that its online audience meets or exceeds that of its New York rival.

Although it has a paywall, the Post has also doubled down on its digital efforts by launching new features designed to jump on viral stories (including some that turn out not to be true). And it has embraced platform strategies like Facebook's mobile-friendly Instant Articles format, in which articles are hosted on Facebook's servers. The paper said recently that it was profitable in 2016, despite comments from owner and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (amzn) that he expected the company to be in "investment mode" for several years.

The New York Times, meanwhile, lost money in the first nine months of last year—in part because of severance costs—and while its digital revenues are growing, its overall revenues fell. Last year, the company brought in about $800 million, down from more than $1.5 billion as recently as 2013. In 2005, the New York Times Co. (which at the time owned the Boston Globe and About.com) had revenues of more than $3 billion and a profit of almost $300 million.

我来点评

相关稿件

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏