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Surge in digital subscribers raises profits for Telegraph

Posted on: September 18, 2020 by Mariella Brown

The Telegraph Media Group has announced a surge in digital subscription revenue by 49% to £17.8m in 2019 as the group continues its transition to a subscription-led business.

The publisher of the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and Telegraph website reported an operating profit (before exceptional items) of £14.3m – up from £8.3m the previous year. 

The media company’s progress towards its goal of delivering 10 million registered users and 1 million subscribers by 2023 was seen in an increase of 60k subscribers from December 2018 to December 2019.

And subscriptions continued to rise through the coronavirus crisis as the Telegraph surpassed half a million subscribers in May this year. 

In a trading statement issued yesterday, TMG reported “strong subscriber growth” and “resilience during Covid-19” as subscription numbers were seen to benefit from the thirst for online news during the pandemic. Total subscribers (print and digital) have reached 522k this month, which marks a 23% increase for 2020 to date. Of this, the group reported the number of digital subscribers grew by 110,000 to 320,000 in the eight months to August 2020.

However, while 2019 turnover was down 5% to £263.9m (from £278m in 2018), the group said this was “a marginal and expected decline… reflecting the continued industry wide structural decline in print advertising and newspaper circulation.”

TMG says it continues to transition to a subscription-led business and the structural revenue decline was “almost entirely offset” by subscriber growth and revenue.

The Telegraph is amongst titles owned by the Barclay Brothers – including the Spectator – both announcing they would return the furlough money given to them by the Treasury.

The increase in the Telegraph’s dedicated politics newsletters and the launch of The Briefing podcast, as well as its Press Awards success of the Telegraph Women’s Sport supplement were cited as editorial highlights of 2019.

Nick Hugh, Chief Executive of TMG said the company was “on track” to deliver a sustainable and profitable business model.

“2019 represented another successful year for TMG, as we continued our transformation to a subscription first business,” Hugh said.

The news comes as the industry continues to see a rise in digital news readership of 3.7m year-on-year due to Covid-19 according to PAMCo, while newspaper circulation has declined on 2019 levels.

Announcing the latest national digital news brand figures Newsworks said, “The latest PAMCo data shows the public’s ongoing demand for trusted news amidst a global coronavirus pandemic, a rise in disinformation and attacks on free speech.”