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July 16, 2013 5:10 pm
Digital revenue growth at Guardian News and Media, publisher of the Guardian and Observer, outstripped declines in its print operations for the first time last year, delivering a much-needed boost for the newspaper publisher.
In results for the year to the end of March, digital revenues at GNM climbed 28.9 per cent to £55.9m, exceeding declines in revenues from print. The climb meant that, over the period, its revenues climbed 1 per cent to £196.3m – the first rise since 2008.
Operating losses at the newspaper publisher narrowed to £30.9m over the period, from £44.2m last time, partly reflecting the axing of editorial jobs earlier in the year in a drive to achieve annual cost savings of £7m.
GNM is more than two years into a five-year transformation plan intended to trim its annual losses to single-digit millions.
Andrew Miller, chief executive of parent company Guardian Media Group, which owns 50.1 per cent of Trader Media Group, said that the newspaper division had “comfortably exceeded” internal targets for the first two years of the transformation plan and that in the current quarter it was also “ahead of target”.
Mr Miller said GNM had seen digital advertising growth across its three segments: ecommerce and subscriptions; recruitment and classified; and display and sponsorship.
The growth in digital revenues will be watched closely by rival publishers as the Guardian is one of the last broadsheet newspaper publishers in the UK to remain opposed to introducing a paywall model for readers.
However, in the US, where the Guardian has a strong and growing digital audience, Mr Miller said it was “still in very early stages” of monetising its readership by advertising and sponsorship initiatives, calling the revenue numbers “very small”. But he said growth there was “in line or slightly ahead of target” after a “strong and very encouraging pick up from advertisers in the US”.
Subscribers to the paper’s iPad app, who pay up to £11.99 monthly, increased by almost 6,000 during the period to slightly below 23,000. However, subscriptions to its iPhone app – which costs £3.99 for six months – fell to almost 57,000, down from 82,000 a year ago.
At Guardian Media Group, which also owns 32.9 per cent of Emap-owner Top Right Group, revenues from continuing businesses were £206.8m – a rise of 0.2 per cent on the previous year.
The group’s combined cash and investment fund rose £27.9m over the year to £253.7m, swelled by the sale last year of GMG Radio for an estimated £70m.
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