The Financial Times' digital subscribers pass print

Krystal Peak · July 27, 2012 · Short URL:

With publishers looking to find a model that could keep their content alive, FT shows promise

As the world's eyes gaze toward London in anticipation of Friday night's opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics, news publishers also take note of one British publication that is making the switch to digital gracefully and profitably.  

The Financial Times announced that the publication read by 2.1 million readers daily, now has more digital subscribers than those reading in print.

And more than that, digital revenues now make up more than half of all sales for the FT Group.

The business publication also stated that its digital subscriptions grew by 31%, and now number over 300,000, while print subscriptions are now at 299,000. 

The digital arm of the company is outpacing overall growth by a meaningful margin too: the FT’s total paid subscriber base is now at 599,000, and grew by only 2% since the previous year (31% digital growth to 2% overall shows that the Financial TImes has come a long way). 

Overall sales for the company for the first half of 2012 were $339 million, representing a growth of 6%.

The numbers were revealed by Pearson, the FT’s owner, while reporting its financial earnings for the first half of the year. Pearson also noted that it is on track for digital to make up half of all sales this year overall.

These improving financial numbers are spelling out that FT’s freemium model, mixing limited free content with tiers of wider content access for those willing to pay, has the ability to work (especially with premium financial content at the price point of £5.19 per week, in the UK). 

Mobile has also become larger component of FT’s business overall: 25% of all traffic now comes from mobile devices.

As the print readers and the advertising revenue has declined for the Financial Times (as well as many publications) it is promising to see that the mobile and digital content coming closer to offsetting the changes to the market.

The year the FT placed a big bet on creating an iOS optimized Web application that is also showing significant growth -- with 2.7 million users entering the site via the app.

Content revenues still make up 61% of the company’s business, although the FT has been developing other digital initiatives from streaming live events and big data services. 

At this point, one US-based publisher coming close to the services offered by the FT, The New York TImes, is expected to announce its Q2 earnings next week and has already surpassed the 500,000 digital subscribers mark.


(Image Source: NYT)

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