Value in subscription-based news brands: Hywood

Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood believes there is a premium attached to digital brands with a strong subscription model.

Questioned at an American Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney this week on the sale of the Financial Times for £844 million, Mr Hywood said the scale provided by global publishers through digital was attractive to investors.

“To have a globally recognised brand of the status of the Financial Times, you can see that there is a premium,” he said.

Mr Hywood agreed with a proposition put by ABC interviewer Ticky Fullerton during the presentation that business media with a subscription base had a high premium.

“Yes, and we absolutely see The Financial Review as having a unique set of opportunities inside our business,” he said.

When asked about whether he saw revenue growth coming from publishing or other areas, such as events or real estate vertical Domain, Mr Hywood said there were growth opportunities across the board.

“We are getting ourselves into a position I believe is quite unique for a publisher,” he said. “Our growth in digital revenues is offsetting any sort of structural decline in print. It is a very sweet spot to be getting to.

“What we are doing is adapting. The readership of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age has never been larger in the history of the company. It is just that 80 per cent of our readership is online.

“Having that audience and creating that audience gives you the opportunity to use that audience and use that market to grow other businesses. So we are growing our events business, we are using it to help grow Domain, we are using it to help grow Stan, our video on demand streaming service.

“There has been a fragmentation of the advertising dollar, you have seen enormous opportunity for people to go elsewhere to get their news and information, and what we’ve done is absolutely focus on who our audience is.”

According to the latest emma data, The Sydney Morning Herald has a cross-platform reach of more than 5.122 million readers – the highest in Australia – with The Age on 3.294 million.

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