Spitzer Surge: N.Y. Guv’s Hooker Scandal Spikes NYTimes.com Traffic 60%

By: E&P Staff

The New York Times scoop that New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer was a client of a high-dollar international prostitution ring caused traffic at its Web site, NYTimes.com, to jump 60% when the news broke at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson told investors Tuesday.

Speaking at the annual Bear Sterns Media Conference, which was Webcast from Palm Beach, Fla., Robinson also said it is possible that at some point the Web site may again charge for content.

“We do not rule out the option to bring back an opportunity for paid content, but right now we feel the advertising revenue we are bringing in scales nicely with the audience,” she said.

Last September, the Times discontinued its TimesSelect subscription service, which offered online access to opinion pieces by columnists such as Maureen Dowd and Thomas L. Friedman. Robinson said Tuesday that the paid model was scrapped in order to build online readership faster. She added the Times Co. can charge “premium” rates even with free content.

NYTimes.com had 20.5 million unique visitors, a 45% increase from the year-ago period, Robinson said.

“When you can monetize growth like that, it’s good for shareholder value,” Robinson said.

In mid-day trading, Times Co. stock (NYSE: NYT) was at $16.90, down 32 cents, or 1.86%, from its opening.

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