New York Times promotes Kopit Levien to CEO, succeeding ex-BBC chief Thompson

The New York Times Co (NYT.N) on Wednesday named Chief Operating Officer Meredith Kopit Levien as its new chief executive, replacing Mark Thompson who is credited with pushing for the company’s successful transformation into an online publisher.

The change is effective Sept. 8 and the company said Levien, 49, will also join its board.

Levien said she would continue to focus on and expand the newspaper’s subscription model as advertising revenue continues to fall.

Levien joined the New York Times Co in 2013 as its advertising head after a nearly five-year stint at Forbes. She was named chief operating officer in June 2017.

Thompson, who has headed the company since 2012 and was previously director-general of the BBC, will also step down as a director, the company said.

“I’ve chosen this moment to step down because we have achieved everything I set out to do when I joined The Times Company eight years ago — and because I know that in Meredith, I have an outstanding successor who is ready to lead the company on to its next chapter,” Thompson said in a statement.

The company’s “subscription-first” business model has helped it weather steep declines in advertising, and it has introduced subscription-based cooking and crosswords products to help diversify its audience. The Times’ subscription business represented two-thirds of the company’s revenue in the first quarter ending March 29.

Its digital business has been a beacon for other newspapers across a struggling industry. At the end of April the Times had more than 6 million total subscriptions across digital and print – with more than 5 million digital-only subscriptions, according to a May 6 news release. The numbers reflected a record high for the company and the U.S. news industry broadly.

On Wednesday, Thompson said the company’s model “looks very healthy.”

“We’re nowadays reaching about one in two Americans every month, including one in two millennials. So it’s a much much broader base than it used to be,” he said.