The Financial Times has posted some positive economic news of its own devising after its total paid readership surpassed one million for the first time.
The psychologically significant tally was crossed a full year ahead of an ambitious growth target since implementing paid trials as its primary pay model back in 2015. These numbers helped to power operating revenues to £383m and operating profits to £25m.
CEO John Ridding commented: “We have reached this record by developing a winning strategy, shared and supported by our owners Nikkei, who themselves now count more than 650,000 digital subscribers. By pioneering a subscription model and investing in digital transformation, we have proved that quality journalism can be a quality, growth business.
“We have also shown the enduring value of independent, authoritative and reliable reporting and analysis in a time of fake news, sensationalism and polarisation in media.”
Since 13 years after the FT became one of the first titles to introduce a paywall back in 2002 digital subscriptions have risen to account for over three-quarters of the FT’s circulation, with 70% of readers hailing from outside the UK.
As part of its ongoing evolution the FT recently announced it would experiment with live experiences by putting its journalists on stage for a theatrical newsroom showcase.
In an email to staff marking the occasion FT CEO John Ridding wrote: “Dear all, we’ve done it. In 2015 we set the ambition of achieving 1 million paying FT readers by 2020. In delighted to say that, in the last few days, we have broken through the 1 million milestone and we have done so ahead of schedule.
“This is a fantastic achievement and I want to say a heartfelt thanks to each and everyone one of you for playing your part. Your hard work, commitment and collaboration have brought us to this landmark, defying the disruption of the media market and proving that quality journalism can be a growth business.
“Kita San, chairman of Nikkei, and Okada San, president and CEO, also sends sincere congratulations, saying ‘Three and a half years ago, we made the decision to form a partnership with the FT, believing in the potential of quality journalism and that, with the right investment and long-term vision, the FT could increase its readership. We are happy that you have proved us right. This is a testimony that true journalism and hard work will be rewarded by readers, even in his tumultuous age.’
“And global we surely are! Today we count loyal print and digital readers from San Francisco to Shanghai, and from Stockholm to Sydney. Our latest reader survey shows that 70 per cent of readers are now based outside of the UK. By contrast when we left Bracken House in 1989, we sold around 295,000, newspapers daily, most of them in London.
“To mark this momentous achievement, we will be hosting staff celebrations in summer in each of our key regions.We will also have more to say about our mission beyond one million once we settle again into our new, old, historic headquarters at Bracken House.
“Today, though, we simply say thank you. You’ve helped make history at the FT and your efforts are truly appreciated.”