Digital subs turn first profit for Times in 13 years

The Times and Sunday Times have produced a profit for News Corp-owned Times Newspapers Ltd in Britain for the first time in 13 years, driven by substantial increases in digital subscriptions.

Times Newspapers Ltd reported an operating profit of £1.7 million for the year ending 30 June 2014 – a huge turnaround on the £72 million loss the company reported before the introduction of a paywall in 2010.

Total sales for The Times – a combination of audited print circulation and self-reported digital subscription numbers – increased 3 per cent to 545,000 year-on-year. The Sunday Times dropped 2 per cent to 958,000, but had a 12 per cent lift in digital sales.

Digital subscriptions accounted for 291,000 (54 per cent) of The Times’ total and 338,000 (35 per cent) of The Sunday Times.

According to a report in The Guardian, there was 10 per cent subscription growth across both titles to 390,000, with 170,000 taking TNL’s digital-only product, up 12 per cent year-on-year, and 220,000 taking a combined print and digital product, up 9 per cent year-on-year.

Announcing the result in London, News UK chief marketing officer Chris Duncan said that attaining a sustainable profit “addresses the move to subscription and how we are going to get paid in the digital future.”

TNL said the growth in total paid sales has meant that both titles were less dependent on advertising, with paid sales representing 51 per cent of TNL’s revenue, compared to 44 per cent from ads. It says the figures confirm that company’s paid-for strategy is helping to secure a sustainable future for the papers.

News UK chief executive Mike Darcey said the result was proof that charging for digital access was working. “We have pioneered digital subscriptions,” he said, “and created a solid customer base to secure a sustainable future for our titles.”

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