Friday, July 27, 2012

Pearson reports lower earnings on higher revenue; Financial Times digital subscribers now outnumber print

Education and financial publisher Pearson today reported its quarterly earnings, reporting lower operating profits, but an uptick in sales. Pearson also let it be known that for the first time, digital subscribers to the Financial Times now outnumber print subscribers.

Pearson reported its first-half operating profit was £188 million version £208 million one year ago. Sales, though, were up 6 percent, with both the education group and the FT group reporting higher revenue.

The Financial Times reached a milestone with digital subscriptions increasing by 31 percent to more than 300,000, according to Pearson. Total paid circulation now stands at 599,000 when print and digital are added together. Ad revenue declined, however, as trade and recruitment advertising declined, with the outlook not bright.

While much will be made of the FT's move to dump its native apps in favor of web apps, the success of seen by the FT is (IMO) support for the idea that financial and trade publications are in the best position to promote paid content strategies. The FT and WSJ are both showing strong growth in digital subscription sales, while efforts to benefit from paywalls at other news websites are showing spotty results.

The FT has also done an excellent job of promoting its digital content through social media, especially Twitter – thus driving demand.