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March 1, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:05am

FT hits 1m paying digital subscribers with online journalism matching all its other revenue streams combined

By Charlotte Tobitt

The Financial Times has reached one million paying digital subscribers in what it said is “proof that quality journalism can be a quality growth business”.

The FT is the second British title to top 1m digital subscribers accessing a paywall, although more than half of its subscribers are based outside the UK. The FT has particularly invested in expanding its US readership in recent years, with more than 20% of its subscribers now in the States.

The Guardian reached the 1m milestone first at the end of November, although this figure was a combination of digital subscribers and recurring contributions from supporters under its free-to-all philosophy.

The FT’s digital subscription business first launched in 2002, introducing a “metered” paywall in 2007 with some content free to registered users. It then changed to the current model of paid trials, giving readers a four-week trial at £1 before asking them to subscribe, in 2015.

It reached 1m total paying subscribers, including print, in 2019.

FT chief executive John Ridding said: “This is another milestone in our successful digital transformation and a strategy we have been pursuing for over a decade. The FT is proof that quality journalism can be a quality growth business, and digital journalism can be a quality global business.”

The FT said its digital journalism revenues now equal all the rest of its revenue streams combined, although it noted the print newspaper “continues to be profitable”.

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The FT newspaper had an average daily circulation of 113,817 in January including 34,371 free bulk copies, according to the latest ABCs. The FT Weekend, which comes out each Saturday, has grown its circulation by 13% from January 2020 to 101,904.

FT editor Roula Khalaf put the growth down to its “scoops, deep analysis, investigations, commentary and culture, all from a truly global perspective” as well as investment in the title’s visual storytelling, film and data journalism since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

The FT said it now plans to expand beyond its professional customer base with new products and formats, with a new iOS app to come shortly targeting non-business readers.

“This will tap into the FT’s extensive social media following, growing podcast listenership and readers of its themed newsletters,” the business said.

Press Gazette’s latest 100k Club ranking of the English-language publishers with the most digital subscribers put the Financial Times in eight place, behind the Weather Channel and newsletter platform Substack.

The biggest digital subscription news business in the world, the New York Times, revealed last month it had reached its goal of 10m subscriptions ahead of its 2025 target.

Picture: Financial Times

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