The Guardian halves losses as digital out-earns print for the first time

The Guardian's digital income has overtaken print revenue.

Guardian Media Group (GMG), the publisher of The Guardian and the Observer has reported its yearly financials, showing that it has halved its losses, a sign that its cost-cutting efforts are paying off.

The news and media wing of the company reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of a £18.6m loss, down 52% from 2017 (£38.9m). Costs were down 7% to £240.1m, and revenues were up 1% to £217m.

A notable milestone is the fact that its digital operation has out-earned its print income for the first time ever – this has been bolstered by a substantial volume of reader donations. Digital revenue was up 15% to £108.6m, now making up just over half of revenues.

Although circulation of the newspaper has been in decline, in line with much of the rest of the industry, at a cover price of £2.00 and with numerous advertisers on board it still pulls in revenue, especially after it and the Observer rebranded to a more inexpensive tabloid format.

The move towards profit is part of a three-year plan that will balance the books, build a deeper relationship with audiences, and reduce costs by 20%. It notes that over the last two years losses have been reduced by two thirds from £57m to £19m. In the last year, it boasted 570,000 regular supporters and an additional 375,000 one-off contributions. It said that half of the group’s total income comes from readers.

GMG boasted 155m monthly unique browser visits in 2018, up from 140m the year before. It also breached one billion page views a month and saw an upturn in returning visitors.

David Pemsel, chief executive officer, Guardian Media Group, said: “In 2016 we set out a three-year strategy based on building deeper reader relationships and getting GNM’s finances to break even at operational level, in order to bring the organisation as a whole back to sustainability. The global media sector continues to face challenging conditions, but our strategy is on track to achieve our target and secure the future of The Guardian.

“We have grown our revenues for a second consecutive year and more people are paying for Guardian journalism than ever before. Thanks to the hard work of everyone at GMG, we are building a strong foundation in order to invest in some of the most trusted journalism in the world.”

Neil Berkett, chair of GMG, added: “Thanks to a year of strong execution by the management team, these results represent another year of significant progress for GMG as we work towards sustainability.

“The company has a well-established portfolio of investments, carries no debt and no material pensions deficits. GMG is on track to create a secure financial base from which to plan for the long-term future of the organisation - enabling us to continue to support world-class Guardian journalism in perpetuity.”

Internationally there was growth too, it cited double digit growth in the US and Australia. Notably, the publication appears to be on track to break even by its deadline.

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