Future: Profit down 45 per cent but digital income up

Specialist publisher Future has grown its digital revenue by 30 per cent year-on-year as operating profit in the first half of this year dropped 45 per cent.

Its half-year results also reveal that online digital edition sales have increased more than ten-fold year-on-year and that digital income in the UK was up 44 per cent, although total overall revenue was down 4 per cent to £68.8m.

Operating profit fell from £3m in the same period a year ago to £1.8m during the half-year up to 31 March. Future said that this was partly due to extra investment in digital media.

Chief executive Stevie Spring told Press Gazette this morning that the popularity of tablet computers had helped contribute to the surge in digital revenue.

‘The great thing about tablets is that Apple has brought to the market a stable, painless and easy payment system for digital products,’said Spring.

The company now has 60 replica magazine editions available on the iPad, and the iPad version of its T3 magazine is now the UK’s biggest-selling paid-for iPad UK magazine with more than 100,000 downloads, the company claims.

Future now says it makes more than £100,000 a month in sales of digital magazines designed to be read on tablet computers.

Two Apps – Guitar World’s Lick of the Day and MacLife – have exceed 500,000 downloads, and Spring said Future, which she described as an ‘ideas machine”, is experimenting with new ones.

‘We have 1,500 hugely creative people working here; the question for us is how do you prioritise those ideas and pick a winner,’she said.

When it comes to paywalls, Spring described her position as ‘agnostic”.

She revealed that Future has been experimenting with giving subscribers access to extra digital content that is locked to non-subscribers.

‘I’d be very surprised if we don’t roll that out to other websites,’said Spring.

The company has launched several new print products this year including Tap!, Maximum Tech, Knitting Today, and iCAR, and will continue to invest in niche publications.

Spring said: “The print launches have been in niche areas which are still very strong.

‘Not all print is down – Digital Camera is up 25 per cent. Where there’s growth we’ll continue to make launches.’

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