4:04 pm Oct. 15, 2012
With two foreign-language sites already in development, The New York Times is assessing what other parts of the world could be viable markets for the Times brand.
"It's not gonna surprise anyone to think we're at least considering all the major languages as being potential markets," foreign editor Joe Kahn told Capital, declining to name any countries in particular. "But there has to be a nice sort of synergy of editorial value that we can bring and also an identifiable advertising or subscription-based market that we can tap into."
That was the sweet spot that led the Times to its intial two foreign-language products—a Mandarin site launched in China back in June and a Portuguese-language site that will launch in Brazil next year. Plans for the latter offering were announced by the company Sunday night.
“Brazil is an international hub for business that boasts a robust economy, which has brought more and more people into the middle class," said Times publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. in a statement. "As the world gets smaller and digital technology enables us to reach around the globe to attract readers with an interest in high quality news, Brazil is a perfect place for The New York Times to take the next step in expanding our global reach.”
Expanding the Times' global reach is one part of a four-pronged growth strategy called "Invest in the Times" that Sulzberger has been championing since early this year. The idea is to burnish the flagship brand by streamling resources that have recently been freed up by the sales of ancillary Times Company properties like its regional papers and the website About.com.
With the global expansion in particular, the Times is aiming to capture a new international audience in order to help scale its broader business model of converting casual online readers into devoted ones and, ultimately, into paid digital subscribers. The inaugural foreign-language sites are free for now, but Kahn said the company hasn't excluded the possibility of subjecting them to a metered digital model sometime in the future, which could be a necessary step in ensuring the long-term growth of the Times' core paid subscription plan.
"I would look at global as being a major driver of growth into the future," media analyst Ken Doctor told Capital back in March.
Kahn said the early results of the China site were promising. He wouldn't provide traffic numbers, but said that unique monthly visitors and pageviews have already surpassed the marker the Times hoped to reach by next June, one-year out from launch. The business plan for the first-year was based on sponsorships, but Kahn said advertising prospects were looking good for year two.
"It's going to appeal to a lot of our core advertisers," he said. "We're attracting a lot of readers, a lot of return-readers, and they're spending a lot of time on the site. So traffic continues to increase at a pretty healthy pace."
As for the Brazil site, there's no firm launch date beyond the "second-half of 2013." Kahn said any additional foreign language sites most likely wouldn't get off the ground until 2014.
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