(There wasn’t much buzz about this outside GB and the US yesterday, so you may find it noteworthy, too.)
Pearson, the publisher of the Financial Times, reported some astonishing numbers yesterday – for those of us who work hard on transforming analog into digital media business:
For the first time, the FT counted more digital than analog subscribers. While 300,000 readers already chose the digital only edition (for £6.79 per week, or £5.19 excluding the ePaper), just 299,000 pay £10.00 on top to get also the print edition (for £16.00 per week, price structure varies regionally). Digital and services account for half of FT Group revenues now.
Digital subscriptions grew by a whopping 31%. The number of registered users (who can access a limited amount of stories for free) grew by 29% to 4.8 million readers with 2.7 million using the great FT web app now. A quarter of them visits ft.com with a mobile device.
The new numbers, again, seem to make a case for metered models, which let you read some (and search crawlers all) content for free.
The New York Times, which also works with a similar access scheme, just reported a 81% growth in digital subscriptions (compared to the year before) now reaching 509K (versus 800K in print). Even the total US newspaper subscriptions seem to grow a little thanks to digital (but I am not totally sure that this growth isn’t partly virtual due to the funny digital counting scheme of the Audit Bureau of Circulations).
While the adjusted operating profit of the FT group even shows a little growth, digital paid content won’t compensate the year over year declining ad market.
So even if a complete digital turnaround of some of the big quality media outlets is on the horizon, the future pure digital players may have a third of their historical analog peak size.