The New York Times was losing $5 per second thanks to its Web site outage

August 14, 2013

(Scott Eells/Bloomberg)

The New York Times is still reeling from a massive Web outage that took down its  homepage, its corporate Web site and everything in between.

Due to the blackout, the Times also lost, at least temporarily, one of its most important revenue streams. Visitors weren't seeing digital ads, and they weren't clicking on them, either. But in terms of lost revenue, what does that really amount to?

To do some very basic estimates, I went and looked up the Times' most recent earnings reports — both for the latest quarter as well as its annual earnings report for 2012. (Don't do what I did at first and go looking for them on nytco.com. The SEC's Web site will be much more helpful.)

From there, we can calculate roughly how much the Times makes every day from its online advertising. Let's start with the quarterly report, which lists its digital ad revenue as $51.2 million. (That's not far off from last year's Q2 figure, which was $52.6 million.) The second quarter ran from April 1 to June 30, a total of 91 days.

Divide $51.2 million by 91, and you get a general idea of the Times' daily digital ad revenue, on average: $562,637.36. We can go even further. Dividing that by 24 gives us $23,443.22, or the amount of money it makes from online ads every hour.

The numbers look much the same using the annual figures. Though the report doesn't list the exact value of its digital ad revenue, it's possible to infer it by looking at the breakdown between print and digital ads, which the company did disclose. About 76 percent of its ad revenue comes from print — and 24 percent from digital, or $170.8 million.

By week, that's $3,223,376.60. Or $460,482.37 every day, or $19,186.77 every hour.

Over the couple of hours the site was down, the company lost out on (very) roughly $40,000 in digital ad revenue. For every minute the Times' site was down, the company lost $319. Or $5.33 per second.

Even that is likely to be low-balling it, since the blackout started at a peak time and traffic to the site is probably more concentrated during daytime hours.

Given that the bulk of the Times' revenue still comes from print advertising and subscriptions, it's not a disaster. But these numbers offer a hard reminder of the nature of Internet publishing.

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecom, broadband and digital politics. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
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