The FT Group grew revenues and profits year on year while investing in new products and services and earning a number of leading industry awards for the quality of its journalism. The Financial Times (FT) celebrates its 130th anniversary this month having achieved a record high paid-for readership in 2017.
More than 910,000 paid-for readers come to the FT across print and digital, up eight percent year on year (assured by Deloitte, Q4 2017). The FT is now a majority digital content business, with digital subscriptions up 10 percent to 714,000, representing more than three-quarters of the total paying audience.
FT chief executive, John Ridding, said: “Despite the constant disruption in the media ecosystem, the Financial Times has had another strong year. The demand for our quality, independent journalism has never been greater and this business performance underlines the dynamism of our global business and brand.”
Last year marked further significant progress in the transformation of the business, with content revenues reaching almost two-thirds of total revenues, double the share of five years ago. Advertising remained resilient, with market share gains in most countries and most sectors.
Investment in product and technology, combined with continuing innovations from the editorial team, saw FT.com awarded Website of the Year for the second year running at the Press Awards, Best Website at the newsawards and Best Use of Technology at the Digiday Publishing Awards. Alongside a return to the Apple app store, developments in 2017 included double-digit growth in reader engagement with more personalised experiences via myFT and improved tools for journalists to tell stories.
The newsroom launched several new initiatives, including Due Diligence - a daily briefing on corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and private equity - and offered new and rich forms of journalism including sharp data graphics and the interactive Uber game.
FT journalism was celebrated with several prestigious awards in 2017, including five prizes at the British Press Awards, six at the Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards, two at the British Journalism Awards and two at the Foreign Press Association Media Awards. The FT was also awarded “Media Company of the Year” and “Media Brand of the Year” at the British Media Awards.
A strong year for the advertising business saw 64 percent growth in branded content revenue year on year. Special Reports, FT Weekend and How to Spend It in particular performed well. The FT print business continued to defy industry trends, seeing especially strong performances in the US and CEMEA.
FT Live continued to build its events portfolio, growing revenues and launching 15 new events, including the FT Commodities Summit Tokyo, FT Climate Finance and FT US Banking Forum.
The Financial Publishing division rebranded as FT Specialist to reflect its transformation into a premium insight and intelligence business, with 85 percent of revenue now coming from content, digital advertising and events. In January 2017, FT Specialist acquired GIS Planning, a San Francisco-based internet technology company which provides organisations with data and intelligence on foreign direct investment (FDI) and economic development in North America. Following the FT acquisition, GIS Planning had its most successful year ever, winning significant statewide deals and growing its market share in the US.
The FT-IE Corporate Learning Alliance, a provider of customised corporate learning programmes for corporations, saw a 62 percent growth in revenues in 2017. Three years into its development, the business has grown its client base well beyond the UK, Spanish and Latin American markets into Northern Europe, Gulf states and Japan.