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April 1, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 7:35am

FT reaches 1m paying readership on back of ‘strong business performance’

By Freddy Mayhew

The Financial Times has reached a paying readership of 1m in a new record for the newsbrand that it says has come a year ahead of schedule and on the back of a “strong business performance”.

The FT first introduced a paywall in 2002, moving to a metered access model five years later, which offered some content for free to registered users, before introducing its current model in 2015, which offers readers a four-week trial at £1 before asking them to subscribe.

Digital subscriptions now account for more than three-quarters of the FT’s circulation, it has said, but the print newspaper “continues to be profitable”.

Some 70 per cent of FT readers are outside the UK, the newsbrand revealed.

Japanese financial publisher Nikkei bought the FT from long-standing owners Pearson for £844m in late 2015.

In a note to staff on reaching the 1m milestone, FT chief executive John Ridding said: “We have reached this record by developing a winning strategy, shared and supported by our owners Nikkei, who themselves now count more than 650,000 digital subscribers.

“By pioneering a subscription model and investing in digital transformation, we have proved that quality journalism can be a quality, growth business.

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“We have also shown the enduring value of independent, authoritative and reliable reporting and analysis in a time of fake news, sensationalism and polarisation in media.”

In a tweet, FT editor Lionel Barber also tweeted his congratulations to his “brilliant journalist colleagues” on the achievement.

Management account figures shared with staff on Friday are said to have shown the FT Group recorded operating revenues totalling £383m last year and operating profits of £25m.

The FT was named News Provider of the Year at Press Gazette’s British Journalism Awards last year.

It returns to its historic home at Bracken House in the City of London this month, from its current base at One Southwark Bridge. The publication has said 2019 is a “landmark year” in its 131-year history.

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