Financial Times reports 21 per cent boost in digital subscribers to 504,000 (70 per cent of total)

Digital subscriptions now make up 70 per cent of the Financial Times's total paying audience following a 21 per cent year-on-year increase to 504,000.

In January, the FT recorded a print circulation of 219,444, according to ABC. This figure, which includes 21,844 bulk copies, is down 6.3 per cent year on year.

But in the preliminary, unaudited, results of the FT's parent group, Pearson, it is claimed that the title's total circulation is up 10 per cent to 720,000, owing to the digital subscription number.

The Economist magazine is 50 per cent owned by Pearson's FT Group. The report, published here, noted that the contribution of the Economist Group was “lower due to a decline in advertising revenue, a weaker US dollar and lower profits at CQ Roll Call”.

It described the Economist's circulation as “robust at 1.6 million” and said there had been a 23 per cent increase in digital subscriptions. It also noted that the Economist’s new daily app, Espresso, has been downloaded nearly 400,000 times.

Financial Times Group chief executive John Ridding said: “Behind the strong commercial performance, we enhanced our product offering with reader-focused innovations such as the new FT Weekend app, First FT and author alerts.

"Importantly our audience is not just growing – people are spending more time with the FT and consuming more content. Overall engagement is up by double digits year on year”.

Ridding announced in an interview with The Guardian, published today, that the FT is stepping away from its metered paywall system online in favour of paid trials on the website.

Readers can currently access up to three articles a month for free on the FT website with no charge, but only subscribers can read more.

Ridding said the new system offers readers "paid-for trials, whereby as for a nominal sum, will have unlimited access for a month”.

The Guardian reports that under the new system users will still be able to access three free articles a month, but instead of being encouraged to pay for more, they will be given the option of a paid trial.

Ridding told The Guardian: “The theory is that within that they can build a habit, and then become a subscriber.”

In its statement, Pearson Group said its adjusted operating profit was £720m, up from £710m in 2013, on total turnover of £4.9bn.

Financial Times Group includes  the Financial Times, a 50 per cent share in The Economist and a joint venture with Vedomosti in Russia. It no longer has a seperate profit and loss figure, but it is part of Pearson Professional which recorded  adjusted operating profit of £106m on turnover of £1.2bn.

Pearson Professional comprises: the Financial Times Group and the educational divisions Pearson English and Pearson View. 

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