Subscriptions up, but ad rev down at Torstar

The company ended the year with just under 10,000 paid digital subscribers.
Toronto Star

Despite growth from its subscription products, revenue in both print and digital advertising has continued to decline for Toronto Star parent co Torstar.

The media giant posted its Q4 earnings Wednesday, which showed declines in ad spend affecting most segments of its business.

Segmented revenue dropped by 14%, totaling $163.8 million. Revenue from community papers fell by 16.1%, coming in at $69.1 million. The Dailies segment, which contain its flagship Toronto Star product as well as the Hamilton Spectator, Waterloo Region Record and recently rebranded Star Metro products, fell by 11.2%, coming in at $76.3 million. Digital ventures, which have been a source of growth in the past, were also down by 9%, totaling $18.4 million. Digital ventures includes properties such as VerticalScope and other acquired digital services.

Dailies posted an operating loss of $1.6 million, communities posted an operating profit of $5.9 million and digital ventures posted a loss of $2.7 million. The company posted a total segmented operating loss of $470,000, compared to Q4 2017 when it posted a profit of $12.4 million.

For the fiscal year, the share that print advertising contributed to community revenue was down, now at 38%. Digital stayed flat at 10%, while flyer distribution went up slightly to 37% (up from 36%). Other revenues for communities came in at 15% (up from 13%).

In the dailies, print’s share of revenue depleted to 38% (down from 44%) whereas digital went up only slightly to 9% (from 8%). Flyer distribution stayed flat at 7%. Subscriber revenue for the year now represents a higher share, at 41% (up from 37%), largely due to the Star‘s introduction of a digital paywall this year, and other revenue for dailies represented 5% (up from 4%). In total, subscription (both print and digital) brought in $120 million for the year, up from $115 million.

Torstar says it ended the year with just under 10,000 paid digital-only subscribers.