The New York Times is starting a new parenting site with an eye toward subscriptions, but it faces big online competition
- The New York Times is launching its third vertical, NYT Parenting, as part of a goal of getting to 10 million subscriptions by 2025.
- The site is a way for the Times to reach a young audience with helpful, uncontroversial news.
- Parenting is a competitive category online and one where the Times is a relative newbie, though.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The New York Times is rolling out a new parenting site on May 8, part of its plan to get to 10 million subscriptions by 2025.
In beta for now, NYT Parenting will give new and expectant parents feature news, essays, milestones information, and guides on topics like dealing with food allergies and avoiding burnout. Lead parenting editor Jessica Grose said user research showed millennials wanted trustworthy information and guidance on balancing one's identity as a parent with the rest of their lives.Read more: New research shows how The New York Times, Economist, New Yorker and other top online subscription publishers stack up
"The wide funnel of the internet would send them down rabbit holes," said Grose, who like most of the parenting staff came from outside the Times; Grose was a founding editor of Lenny Letter.
The site will be free for now, with the eventual goal of turning it into a subscription service. Users will have to log in or register during the beta period, which will let the Times gauge appetite for the site and collect people's email addresses so it can contact them in the future.
In addition to subscriptions, NYT Parenting will sell advertising, starting with a companion newsletter.
The Times is looking to parenting to grow subscriptions
Services like NYT Parenting are key to how the Times plans to get to its goal of 10 million subscribers. It's also trying to bundle these various services into pricier subscription packages.
With NYT Parenting, the hope is that it'll follow in the trajectory of The New York Times Crossword and NYT Cooking, which had more than 400,000 and 120,000 subscribers in 2018, respectively. The Times had 4.3 million subscribers overall by the end of 2018 and now gets more than half its revenue from subscriptions.With NYT Parenting, the Times has some hurdles. Parenting didn't have an existing staff or big library of content to draw from at launch, whereas Cooking has a library of 19,000 recipes. NYT Parenting launches with a staff of 20, around the same number of people NYT Cooking had at launch.
NYT Parenting also has to find the right balance between sounding like the Times while being approachable. The Times has had success moving into service journalism lately, with its Smarter Living-branded coverage that's popular with readers, often evergreen, and safe for advertisers. But its tips on doing laundry can sit oddly next to the Times' hard-hitting investigative journalism.
Grose said parenting coverage is right there with the Times' journalistic mission in that it's all about telling human stories, though.
"The Times is trying to help people through one of the most important things in their lives: raising children," she said. "It's one of the core missions, even if it's not one of the ways people think of The New York Times at a top level. We always wanted to maintain the journalistic rigor that the New York Times has in everything they do. That said, we are appealing to a younger audience than the Times' main product. That means the voice will be a little more intimate, a little warmer. You're not going to use the same voice in an article about potty training as an article about the Mueller report."
Parenting is a competitive space and the Times is relatively new to it
With NYT Parenting, the Times also is entering a category where there's already a lot of free information online.
Leading the parenting category is CafeMedia, with about 20 million uniques in March, according to ComScore. No. 2 is Scary Mommy, a blog that barely existed a year ago and now has close to 18 million uniques. Then there are stalwarts Johnson & Johnson's BabyCenter (12 million uniques) and Meredith's Parents Network (9 million).
"They'll be up against a BabyCenter and also highly trusted mommy bloggers," Chris Wexler, SVP of media and analytics at Cramer-Krasselt, told Business Insider.
The Times has done a great job with vertical content like cooking and crosswords that have led to digital payment, and parenting is a smart way to strengthen its reach with young readers, said Jim Friedlich, executive director and CEO of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Parenting is also a very competitive digital space and not a historic strength of the Times, though, he said.Packaged goods advertisers who are used to paying low ad rates to reach big swaths of people might not be prepared to pay the premium rates the Times traditionally asks for, said Wexler.
Times execs insisted NYT Parenting would be different from anything that's out there for parents.
"People who have looked at comparable sources in parenting, the reaction seems to be uniform excitement that an institution with the rigor of the New York Times is approaching this subject area," Youngna Park, executive product director at NYT Parenting told Business Insider. Without naming specific outlets, she said, "We heard a lot of, 'Tonally, it's infantilizing, the content's extremely repetitive, it seems homogeneous in family structure, repetitive, and it isn't clear where the information is coming from.'"
The Times' verticals also aren't as lucrative as the core product. It hasn't set a price for Parenting but it's safe to assume it'll be in the ballpark of Crosswords and Cooking, its other recently launched vertical subscription products. Crosswords and Cooking run about $20 and $40, respectively, if paid by the year and when not on sale, versus $195 a year for a regular Times subscription.