Financial Times 2016 annual results
The Financial Times achieved record levels of paid for readership in 2016, secured a number of leading industry awards for the quality of its journalism and sustained healthy profits while investing in new digital products and services.
Driven by growth in digital subscriptions and a strong performance from both its conference business FT Live and its specialist Financial Publishing division, revenues from digital and services at the FT overtook those from print, marking another milestone in the FT’s business transformation.
The FT achieved a record high circulation of almost 850,000 across digital and print, up 8% year-on-year. Digital subscriptions grew 14% to 650,000, more than three-quarters of the total paying audience (assured by Deloitte, Q4 2016). During the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election, the FT saw subscription acquisition gains of 75% and 33% respectively in the weeks surrounding the events versus average levels.
FT CEO John Ridding said: “Our first year in partnership with our new owners Nikkei saw the FT achieve record levels of paid-for readership and investment in new digital products and revenue streams. These will help ensure the sustained success of the FT’s business transformation and support for our unrivalled quality global journalism. We are developing substantial areas of cooperation with our partners at Nikkei, based on our shared values and vision.
The new FT.com – the FT’s flagship product launch of 2016 – remains one of the fastest news sites in the world, loading in 1.5 seconds on desktop and 2.1 on mobile. The new site has increased reader engagement by 30%, with visitors reading more and returning more frequently. The site has been recognized by both the Press Awards and the Digiday Publishing Awards, where it was awarded Website of the Year and Best Use of Technology, respectively.
FT journalism won a number of prestigious awards in 2016, including five prizes at the British Press Awards, two awards for its multimedia productions at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), ‘Publisher of the Year’ at Digiday Europe, Comment Pages of the Year at the EI Comment Awards, the Orwell Prize for journalism, and Journalist of the Year at the 2016 Wincott Awards.
The FT’s Financial Publishing division, with 18 brands including The Banker, Investors Chronicle and Ignites, performed strongly and achieved a profit margin of more than 45%. Print advertising now accounts for just 17% of this division’s total revenues. The FT Group business was strengthened by the recent acquisition of GIS Planning, a San Francisco-based technology company that combines economic and demographic information with mapping and visualisation tools to help businesses choose start up or relocation sites.
FT Live delivered another year of growth, with revenues and profits increasing by double digits in 2016. It held 200 events in 31 countries, drawing 24,000 attendees. Highlights included the first FT Weekend Live Festival, held in London in September, which attracted 2,000 attendees and featured 80 leading figures across seven stages; and the 2016 Women at the Top Summit, which featured an impressive line-up of speakers including UK Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening, Monica Lewinsky, and Facebook VP EMEA Nicola Mendelsohn.
The FT 125, a forum for senior executives, which holds monthly meetings on topical business issues, continues to go from strength to strength. It ended the year with 52 paying corporate members and a network of several hundred individual members, representing the next generation of business leaders. In October it launched the FT 125 Women’s Forum with an onstage interview with Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money; the Women’s Forum’s current membership includes 150 top mid-level high potential women from top FTSE 100 companies, who are mostly in their 30s and working across multiple industries. Other FT 125 speakers included former UK chancellor George Osborne; Cilla Snowball, chairman and chief executive of AMV BBDO; and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.
The FT’s branded content studio FT2 was boosted from increased capabilities from Alpha Grid, the FT’s first acquisition under Nikkei’s ownership, and sales revenues for paid posts grew by 400%. The FT’s luxury advertising is growing strongly with How To Spend It increasing digital revenues by 65% in 2016. A relaunch of the luxury lifestyle website resulted in a 73% increase in time spent with its journalism.
An exchange programme between the FT and Nikkei sent nearly 20 employees on secondment with the aim of exchanging expertise in newsroom operations and in commercial and technology divisions. The companies also launched the FT-Nikkei Fellowship, an annual programme awarded to two of the most promising journalists, one from each media organisation, to work together on a special project in San Francisco.
FT journalists from around the globe now appear on two Nikkei television programs airing in Japan, Hayaoki Nikkei Plus FT (“Early Rising Nikkei Plus FT”) and Nikkei Plus-10.
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About the Financial Times
The Financial Times is one of the world’s leading business news organisations, providing a broad range of information, news and services for the global business community. It is recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy. The FT has a combined paid print and digital circulation of 850,000 and makes 60% of revenues from its journalism.