But the media company is warning of a more than 50% drop in ad revenue for the second quarter amid the fallout from covid-19.
Shares of the parent of The New York Times at last check rose 4% to $34.68.
The media company earned 17 cents a share in the first quarter, down from 20 cents in the year-earlier period. The latest result beat the 13-cent-a-share estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.
Revenue of $443.6 million for the quarter rose 1% from a year earlier and edged past the $439.6 million estimate of analysts polled by FactSet.
A jump in digital subscriptions helped push up revenue from paid readership by 5.4%, to $285.4 million.
New York Times was hit with a more than 15% drop in ad revenue in the first quarter, to $106.1 million.
The company reported it had added a record 587,000 net new digital subscriptions during the quarter, amid heavy interest in and coverage of the coronavirus crisis.
The gain comes as the media company increasingly shifts its focus away from a declining newspaper industry ad base.
New York Times said the majority of subscriptions, or 468,000, were for its core news product, with a total of more than four millions subscribers to its digital-only news product as of the end of April.
Even so, New York Times said it's bracing for an even bigger hit to its advertising base in the second quarter amid the economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The company predicts a 50% to 55% decline.