Feb 15, 2022 - Economy

Scoop: Financial Times nears 1 million digital-only subscribers

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

The Financial Times will soon reach 1 million digital-only subscribers, a source familiar with the numbers confirms to Axios.

Why it matters: The FT has had a digital paywall since 2002. It was one of the first publishers to introduce a metered paywall in 2007, before transitioning over to paid subscription trials in 2015.

  • The company has seen subscriptions surge in recent months amid efforts to expand globally outside of the U.K. and experiments with subscriber-only products.

By the numbers: In total, the company has 1.17 million paid subscribers and will reach 1 million digital-only subscribers later this month, according to internal estimates. It's unclear how many of those subscribers are on promotional plans.

  • Roughly 500,000 subscribers come from the U.K., with the U.S. its second-biggest market.

Flashback: The FT said it topped 1 million paid readers in 2019, but that figure included print subscribers.

  • The FT was bought by Japanese media giant Nikkei for $1.3 billion in 2015. Executives in the past have credited Nikkei's support for its success in building out its subscription model.

By the numbers: For the full year of 2021, the FT's total group revenues, including journalism products and other professional services, reached £438 million, or $593 million, up 18% year-over-year.

  • Digital journalism makes up 46% of total revenues.

The big picture: There's been a surge in digital subscriptions across digital news outlets. In December, The Guardian surpassed 1 million digital-only subscribers.

What's next: In March, the company will launch a new app called "The FT Edit app" that will give readers access to eight feature articles every weekday at a much lower price point.

  • The app will be available to subscribers via Apple's app store. The paper has historically had disagreements with Apple over revenue and data sharing agreements.

What to watch: Last month, journalists at the Financial Times' U.S. operation said they are looking to unionize, arguing that the U.S. accounts for 30% of the FT’s global readership, but that the U.S. newsroom accounts for 11% of the company’s 700 journalists.

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