The 167-year-old New York Times has a boringly simple strategy when it comes to generating revenue in the digital era: Report news worth reading and grow paid digital subscriptions. That game plan has paid off in spades, as revenue from subscriptions yielded more than $1 billion in 2017, a first for the publication. For the past year, however, the Times has also been reaping dividends from The Daily, a podcast that aims to make the news worth hearing.
And while publishers such as Vox Media are building sophisticated ad-tech platforms for audio ad sales, The Times is offering The Daily for free, largely as a gateway to new audiences. The Daily has nearly a dozen staffers, yet it only pushes a single audio ad to listeners for each episode. It's already generating a profit anyway.
"The Daily is the best billboard the New York Times has ever had," Sam Dolnick, senior editor at the Times, says in this episode of Remotely Entertaining from SXSW. "If you think you are not interested in the news, or The New York Times is boring, then listen to The Daily."
"The next generation of subscribers will come to us not from picking up a stray page, but from listening to The Daily," he adds.
Here, we speak with Dolnick and The Daily's host, Michael Barbaro.