The milestone, reached one year ahead of schedule, comes on the back of a strong business performance, with both operating profits and revenues growing last year, says the FT.
In a staff note to mark the occasion, FT CEO John Ridding said: “We have reached this record by developing a winning strategy, shared and supported by our owners Nikkei, who themselves now count more than 650,000 digital subscribers. By pioneering a subscription model and investing in digital transformation, we have proved that quality journalism can be a quality, growth business. We have also shown the enduring value of independent, authoritative and reliable reporting and analysis in a time of fake news, sensationalism and polarisation in media.”
The FT first introduced a paywall in 2002. It established a ‘metered’ access model in 2007 before moving in 2015 to paid trials as its primary pay model. Digital subscriptions now account for more than three-quarters of the FT’s circulation, although the publishers says that the print newspaper continues to be profitable. 70 per cent of FT readers are outside the UK.
Management account figures shared with staff on Friday showed the FT Group recorded a strong financial performance last year, with operating revenues totalling £383m and operating profits of £25m. Revenues and profits have continued to rise since the FT was acquired by Nikkei in 2015.
Under editor Lionel Barber, the Financial Times won nearly 50 global awards and honours for its quality journalism and newsroom innovations in 2018, including the ‘Newspaper of the Year’ and ‘News Team of the Year’ prizes at the British Press Awards. The FT also won ‘News Provider of the Year’ at the British Journalism Awards.
This month the FT will move its global headquarters from One Southwark Bridge in London to its historic home, Bracken House in the heart of the City, making 2019 a landmark year in the publication’s 131-year history.