The New York Times posted an 18 percent gain in daily circulation, vaulting it past USA Today as the second-largest U.S. newspaper, according to figures released by the Alliance for Audited Media.
The Times’ average daily circulation rose to 1.87 million in the six-month period ending March 31, the alliance said in a statement. News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal remained the No. 1 paper in the U.S., with its circulation climbing 12 percent to 2.38 million. The Gannett Co.-owned USA Today dropped to third after daily readership dropped 7.9 percent to 1.67 million.
The New York Times has seen a surge in online subscribers since the company instituted a so-called paywall in 2011, prompting readers to pay for online access. The AAM’s daily circulation figures include people who read the paper on a range of devices, including Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle.
“These gains can largely be attributed to the continuing popularity of the Times’ digital subscription packages,” New York Times Co. said in a separate statement.
The company also is being helped by relatively new reporting rules at the AAM that let publishers count readers multiple times if they access a paper on different devices. For instance, a person who reads the Times on a personal computer, a smartphone and a tablet in a single day would be counted as three readers. While the New York Times’ digital readership stands at 1.13 million, the publisher only had 676,000 paying online subscribers as of the end of March.
New York Times Co. shares rose 0.3 percent to $8.90 at 9:58 a.m. in New York. The stock had climbed 4 percent this year through yesterday.
The company announced plans last week to create more digital products and services, aiming to make up for tumbling advertising sales. The new offerings, such as lower-priced online packages and specialized subscriptions that focus on areas such as politics and technology, will be rolled out in late 2013 or early 2014.
The publisher is targeting potential customers “numbering in the many hundreds of thousands,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Thompson said in an interview at the time.
The Times’ current pricing plans range from $15 to $35 a month, depending on how many devices the reader plans to use.
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