News Corp Has Lost $10 Million On ‘The Daily’ This Year

“In the quarter, we have lost about $10 million on The Daily,” News Corp (NSDQ: NWS) president Chase Carey told analysts on the group’s Q3 earnings call. A colleague also said The Daily has seen 800,000 downloads since launch.

A News Corp. spokesperson later told us the download count is now higher than 800,000. The “loss” is mostly due to investment costs because the app has only just gone paid.

The company has previously said investment in the tablet-only news title will run to $30 million by the time fiscal 2011 ends in June. That includes $7 million in Q2 and an early run rate of nearly a half-million dollars a week.

Asked on the call, by my colleague Staci Kramer, Carey refused to disclose The Daily‘s free trial to paid subscription conversion ratio. “We’re not going to build this in a fishbowl,” he said. That sort of detailed information is not something we’re going to share publicly at this point.

“It’s really early days,” Carey said. “It’s only a month-plus that it’s been pay-based. It’s actually one of the most downloaded news apps out there. It’s a work-in-progress, we’re proving the technology, refining the content – the tablet market is still in its infancy.”

The Daily costs were one of the reasons News Corp saw Q3 operating income in its publishing division slump by $82 million to an underlying $36 million. UK and Australian newspapers advertising revenue also fell, newsprint costs increased and the Integrated Marketing Services division turned in lower earnings while also paying out a further $125 million to settle a lawsuit.

Group-wide, net income fell by a fifth to $682 million on eight percent lower revenue of $5.32 billion.

Television earnings quadrupled as national advertising bounced back from last year’s slump. And cable networks, News Corp’s biggest contributor, earnings rose by a quarter.