December 28, 2016 / 7:05 PM / 8 months ago

New York Times surpasses 100 million views on Facebook Live

The motorcade of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump makes its way past the New York Times building after a meeting in New York U.S., November 22, 2016.Shannon Stapleton

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Presidential politics and celebrity interviews helped The New York Times Co surpass 100 million views for its Facebook Live videos, the company said on Wednesday.

Facebook launched its live-streaming platform in August of 2015 and it is in its infancy. The New York Times has used Facebook Live to showcase its journalism, hoping to reach potential subscribers as the newspaper publisher relies more heavily on digital to grow its revenue.

It was not clear how much revenue The New York Times has derived from producing these videos.

Multiple media outlets reported that Facebook was paying certain media companies to produce Live videos through a one-year period from March 2016 to March 2017. The Wall Street Journal also reported that The New York Times was being paid around $3 million for the one-year period.

A New York Times spokeswoman declined to comment on any financials or the Wall Street Journal report. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the company has been offering "temporary financial support" to a "relatively small number of companies" to produce videos.

The Times said it reached the 100 million views benchmark earlier this month. Comparative figures were not available for how the New York Times ranks against similar publishers, including The Washington Post.

The Times got more 5 million views on its live-stream of the first presidential debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. There were 3.9 million views for a concert by Erykah Badu and another popular Times live-stream featured singer-actress Kristin Chenoweth.

Digital is becoming more important for many major U.S. media companies, particularly the New York Times, where print advertising revenue has been in freefall. During its most recent quarter, ad revenue from print slid 18.5 percent from the previous year, accounting for just 22 percent of its total revenue, said chief executive Mark Thompson during the Nov. 2 earnings call.

Digital ad revenue, which saw a 21.4 percent rise, now accounts for 35.5 percent of revenue at the New York Times. During that same earnings call, chief revenue officer Meredith Kopit Levien said video was becoming more of a factor in growing digital ad revenue.

Reporting by Tim Baysinger; Editing by David Gregorio

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