Digital Video NewFronts

New York Times gets down to business, eyes TV at NewFront

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Credit: New York Times

The New York Times has one subscriber in Washington, D.C., so excited about what he reads that he likes to tweet about it, Mark Thompson, president and CEO of The New York Times, said in kicking off the company's NewFront presentation. The subscriber, of course: President Donald Trump, who Thompson says has tweeted about the Times over 200 times.

But politics wasn't the focus of its pitch to advertisers. This year, it's zeroing in on the new.

The NYT, which has already conquered audio with its formidable "The Daily" podcast, is setting its sights on TV.

While the details were vague, with no actual projects being announced, the NYT could bring some of its most popular pieces of content and sections to TV.

Earlier this year it entered a deal with Anonymous Content to represent film and TV rights for the company's journalism. This, for instance, could lead to a TV show around the people the NYT featured in its series "Overlooked," about women and minorities who didn't get obituaries in the Times but should have.

Also in consideration is a TV-version of "The Daily" podcast; a TV show around its "Modern Love" column; and a cooking show tied to writer Sam Sifton. They are even thinking about how crossword puzzles might make compelling TV.

Last month it was announced that The New York Times Magazine's "Diagnosis" column would be turned into a medical mystery series on Netflix, while its investigation into the sexual harassment allegations of Harvey Weinstein will become a movie.

It's certainly not new for publishers to sell rights to content to be turned into TV shows or movies. BuzzFeed has several TV projects in the works, including a new Netflix short-form documentary that will follow its reporters; Vox's explanatory journalism will be turned into a Netflix series; and Conde Nast's first feature film to get wide release, "Only the Brave," hit theaters in October.

The Times is also investing in its business coverage. Later this year it will rename its business section to better reflect how technology has changed the world and work life.

"'Business Day' was introduced in 1978 and it reflects the nine-to-five-day people worked at that time and we want something modern," said Ellen Pollock, editor of Business Day. Pollock stopped short of revealing the new name.

It will also redesign its Sunday Business section later this year to have a more magazine feel and will introduce a weekly business newsletter that looks back at the week.

"Sunday is a real opportunity for us when the competition is silent," Pollock says.

The New York Times has hired more business and technology than political reporters over the past year.

The company saw its ad revenue decline 4 percent in 2017 to $559 million as print remains challenged. Print advertising decreased 14 percent to $320 million, while digital grew 14 percent to $238 million. Digital ad revenue now represents 46 percent of the company's total ad revenue.

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