Digital-only sales of The Economist for tablets, e-readers and the web reached 100,000 for the first time alongside growing print circulation.
Despite a tough economic outlook, The Economist Group’s operating profit rose in the first half of the year to £26.2m, an increase of 6% over last year, with revenue growing by 4% to £164.3m, by reaching new audiences and offering them high-quality, agenda-setting news and analysis.
Consistent growth has been built on the Group’s long-term investments in both the editorial content and digital distribution. This approach reflects the business’s view that new technology such as e-readers and tablets are significantly changing reader behaviour.
Speaking about today’s results, editor-in-chief John Micklethwait said: “The Economist has always benefited from globalisation, the spread of English and the huge increase in the audience interested in intelligent coverage of global politics, business, science, technology and culture. Our results show that we are gaining from the growth in ‘lean-back’ reading on tablets and e-readers, which seems to play to our strengths."
The Economist Group’s chief executive, Andrew Rashbass, commented: “We are discovering great opportunities in digital. Digital editions of The Economist reach new readers all round the world as well as providing even more value to our current subscribers. For us, as for many publishers, digital is not a zero-sum game.”
Growing sales of both print and digital editions reflect:
• Paid digital-only circulation of The Economist reached more than 100,000 at the end of October 2011, more than double twelve months ago, with a further 300,000 print subscribers also reading the paper digitally each week.
• Strong demand for digital editions of The Economist with over three million downloads of The Economist app to tablets and smartphones.
• Increase in sales of print copies of The Economist with print circulation growing by 3% to 1,486,838 copies in the January-June 2011 ABC audit period compared with the same period last year.
• Growth in the number of monthly visitors to The Economist online, building a community of more than 7m unique monthly users, 45% more than a year ago.
Strong advertising revenue growth in the Americas and Asia
• Advertising revenues across all formats grew by 12% at constant dollar exchange rates.
In other parts of the Group:
• The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) revenue grew by 10% at constant exchange rates compared with last year.
• Significant investment in the EIU’s ability to do tailored research for individual customers, leading to 40% growth in custom-research revenue.
• The Ideas People Channel, an online advertising network launched last year, has made good progress.
• Launched Economist Education to deliver e-learning courses on doing business in emerging markets.
Click here for a presentation illustrating Andrew Rashbass's vision on the impact that e-readers and tablets have had on reader behaviour, creating a 'lean-back' approach which demands an entirely new way of thinking from media companies. Digital is not a zero-sum game, he suggests, it is a huge growth opportunity. (Please note that there is no soundtrack.)
(November 28th 2011)