Losses mount at Washington Post ahead of summer paywall plan

Gigaom

The Washington Post Company posted bleak quarterly earnings on Friday. The newspaper division saw an operating loss of $34.5 million, newspaper division revenue fell four percent from a year ago, and while online revenue was up the entire company barely eked out a profit.

While most of the losses arose as a result of pension and restructuring expenses, the company’s core business remains distressed. Print advertising revenues fell 8 percent, and while circulation declined by seven percent. A small bright spot comes in the form of a 16 percent increase in online display advertising at a time when such revenue is flat or falling at other newspapers.

While the Washington Post’s earnings reflect a familiar story of the declining newspaper business, they are particularly discouraging because the paper does not appear to have a turnaround plan on the horizon. While the New York Times has been experimenting with its digital paywall for over a year, and now has plans to create different pricing tiers, the Post’s plan to raise online digital subscription revenue remains amorphous. The company plans to launch a paywall this summer, but the model appears so leaky that it is unlikely to bring in significant money any time soon.

At the same time, while the New York Times has cut away all its non-core assets to focus on the flagship brand, the Washington Post Company is also figuring out how to turn around Kaplan, its troubled education segment.

Correction: The first paragraph of this post was updated to correct descriptions of profit and loss.




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