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10 January 2019

Times Newspapers In Profit As Digital Subscriptions Overtake Print

Digital subscribers have overtaken print subscribers for the first time at The Times and The Sunday Times and now account for 51 per cent of the total, the publisher’s accounts show.

Increased turnover and reduced expenses helped the publisher of The Times and The Sunday Times to make an annual after-tax profit of £9.6 million, compared with a loss of £8 million in the previous financial year.

 “The increase in turnover was underpinned by growth in digital subscriptions and digital advertising revenues, which, supported by the impact of cover price increases, more than offset continuing industry-wide declines in print volumes and print advertising,” the publisher said.

Subscriptions to The Times and The Sunday Times passed half a million in the past 12 months, reaching 502,000, according to end-of-year accounts to July 2018 filed with Companies House.

Digital subscribers have overtaken print subscribers for the first time and account for 51 per cent of the total, the company said. In addition, 3.8 million people have registered to access Times and Sunday Times articles under a system that allows non-subscribers to read two articles a week for free, The Times reported.

The company pointed to the recent launches of Mansion Global, a luxury property portal that features Times content, as well as Times Expert Traveller, which offers curated holidays and trips, as examples of diversification.

Over the past year the number of editorial staff employed by Times Newspapers has increased from 483 to 505.

Average circulation of The Times remains relatively stable at about 440,000, while The Sunday Times sells 748,000 copies a week. The company said that the future for both titles “remains strong”, with a priority on creating a fully digital newsroom and increasing digital subscriptions, including to an international readership.

However, it cautioned that future financial performance would be influenced by market variables, including the price of paper and the rise of new media competitors.

“The company is also exposed to the impact of long-term structural movements in advertising spending, in particular the move in advertising from print to digital,” the company said.

Advertising revenue at News Group Newspapers, which publishes The Sun, rose for the first time in seven years, with digital advertising growth offsetting print declines.