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Deloitte: UK digital publishing revenues soar 31.9% to £152m in first quarter of 2021

UK digital publishing revenues soared in Q1, says Deloitte

New data from Deloitte and the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) examining digital publishing revenues has shown that the sector saw impressive growth in the first quarter of 2021.

Digital publishing revenues have continued their upward trajectory through the opening quarter of 2021, with 31.9% growth versus the same period a year prior pushing the headline figure to £152m.

What does the data show?

  • The Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index charts the quarterly ebb and flow of digital publishing revenues and is produced by the AOP and Deloitte.

  • The quarterly report found that display advertising continues to be the largest single revenue generator for digital publishers, generating £53.6m of income after rising a healthy 4.7% versus the first quarter of 2020.

  • Subscription revenues have also been boosted by 48.8% over the review period with double-digit growth extending to both B2B and B2C publishers.

  • B2C publisher revenues jumped 34.2% compared with the first quarter of 2020, boosting revenues from £104.3m to £139.2m in the process thanks largely to a 64% jump in subscriptions. B2B titles set a somewhat slower pace, with growth of 11.1%, with a 4.7% rise in subscriptions and an 18.7% jump in display advertising.

Making up for 2020 setbacks

  • Read on a 12-month rolling basis to March 2021 the stats show digital revenue powered ahead by 9.5% to £517.4m, courtesy of an additional £123.1m in subscription revenue over the same period. Taken as a whole revenues for B2C and B2B publishers rose by 1% and 10.5% respectively.

  • On the flip side of this success are recruitment, sponsorship, and online video income which dropped precipitously by 46.9%, 17.2% and 23.1% respectively in the year from March 2020.

  • Dan Ison, Deloitte's lead partner for telecommunications, media and entertainment said: “To see growth of 49% in subscription revenue in the first quarter of 2021 is staggering – in comparison, we saw a slight 4% increase in first three months of 2019 – and a clear sign that the industry may be building back stronger following the impact of the pandemic.“

  • Richard Reeves, managing director, AOP, added: “The rapid increase in digital revenues across almost all categories is extremely heartening, especially after the lows of last year. While there are clearly still long-term impacts of the pandemic it’s great to see the exceptional value and quality environments digital publishers can deliver is being recognised by the industry, demonstrated by the incredible performance in Q1 2021.“

  • On the back of strong digital publishing revenues, confidence remains understandably high with a general expectation that the broader economic recovery will lift all boats as the pandemic tide recedes. Mindful of the vagaries of this new reality however some 78% of AOP board members believe keeping a lid on costs will assume greater importance in the year ahead, a significant increase on the 14% who reported similar sentiments a year before.

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