Digital Publishing Reader Revenue
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Resurgence of the (digital) newspaper: Guardian joins the ranks

Just earlier this month, we reported about The Times of London and The Sunday Times reaching 500,000 subscribers, with digital subscribers overtaking print subscribers for the first time.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the New York Times made more than $1 billion in overall subscription revenue last year, with a total of more than 2.6 million digital-only subscriptions, and a surge in circulation.

The Washington Post reversed its fortunes too, going from sinking to winning. The Post – privately owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos – won’t discuss specific figures, but revenue and profits are up, as subscribers grow and digital ad revenue increases.

And now the Guardian Media Group, owner of the Guardian and Observer titles, has joined the ranks, with digital revenues overtaking print for the first time.

In its annual report released this week, GMG reported digital revenues up by 15% to £108.6m – just over half of its £217m total revenues for the year, which were up 1% YoY.

“The global media sector continues to face challenging conditions, but our strategy is on track to achieve our target and secure the future of the Guardian,” said David Pemsel, chief executive officer of Guardian Media Group.

We have grown our revenues for a second consecutive year and more people are paying for Guardian journalism than ever before.

The fact that its digital operation has out-earned its print income for the first time ever has been bolstered by a substantial volume of reader donations.

Indeed, the Guardian is unusual among its peers for electing not to erect a paywall. This strategy has been vindicated with the number of supporters (people who pay for a membership or one-off articles) rising to 900,000 in the latest full year. Indeed, the group generates more revenue from readers than from advertising, raising nearly £100 million to date in reader revenue, according to a spokesman for the company.

Taking a global perspective, in spite of less than encouraging news on occasions, newspaper subscriptions are on the rise, and local newspapers are seeing a “resurgence of trust” as research shows they are three times more trusted than Facebook.

It’s encouraging to see trusted media start to finally find its footing in a deeply disrupted digital landscape.

Read the Guardian’s full financial results.