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July 27, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:29am

Guardian digital reader revenue climbs during pandemic year with half from outside UK

By Freddy Mayhew

More than half of The Guardian’s digital reader revenue comes from outside the UK, the media group has revealed.

International revenues now make up more than 30% of Guardian Media Group’s total revenue, helped by a dramatic US election campaign, financial results for the year to 28 March 2021 show.

GMG owns The Guardian and The Observer, which both publish online at theguardian.com. Guardian journalism attracted more than 2bn unique browsers and nearly 20bn page views over the year.

[Read more: 100k Club: Top digital subscription newsbrands ranked]

Digital reader revenue was up 61% on last year to £68.7m, driven by “record numbers” of digital subscriptions and recurring contributions which grew by a third (33%) to 961,00, helping offset lost print and advertising revenue.

Digital subscriptions were up 46% year-on-year to 401,000, recurring contributions were up 24% to 560,000, and print subs were up 8% to 120,000.

The Guardian received 585,000 single contributions globally in 2021, up 83% on the year before.

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[Read more: Katharine Viner on how The Guardian has lasted 200 years: ‘We have roots, we have principles, we have philosophy’]

Total group revenue was up slightly year-on-year to £225.5m. Pre-tax profit climbed to £198.2m, up from a loss of £36.8m the year before, but GMG reported an operating loss of £10.1m for the year.

The Guardian has made about 125 members of staff redundant over the year, the majority of which it said were on a voluntary basis, as part of a “strategic restructuring programme” focused on parts of the business “most impacted by sustained structural shifts in the market”.

The group claimed £1.6m in furlough money, but repaid this by April.

GMG’s net operating cash outflow – a key figure in its three-year financial turnaround to 2019 – was £15.6m in 2021, falling within the £25m interest returned on the £1.15bn Scott Trust Endowment Fund that acts as an overdraft for the group.

[Read more: Guardian performed remarkable comeback in 2018/19, but at cost of 450 jobs]

Guardian Media Group interim chief executive Keith Underwood said: “Outstanding journalism, commercial innovation and much hard work across the organisation have delivered a strong set of results in a challenging year.

“This performance is testament to the dedication and expertise of our staff, and our strong and trusted relationship with readers.

“Having restructured the business, we are now in a position to invest in our journalism and the capabilities that will deepen reader relationships and drive reader revenues on a global basis.”

The Guardian also marked its 200th anniversary this year.

Read the 2021 results in full.

Picture: Piotr Swat / Shutterstock.com

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