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The Financial Times is one of the few major print publishers that has succeeded in a big way with paid content. And while other print publishers who hoped that the iPad would help them revitalize their businesses struggle with the iPad, the FT looks like it has extended its existing success to the platform.

According to The Guardian, the FT's iPad app has now produced more than £1m in ad revenue since it was released to the public in May. What's more: of the 400,000 people who have downloaded the app, a decent number are subscribing; the iPad app now delivers 10% of the FT's new digital subscribers.

The FT's Ben Hughes told The Guardian that print advertising revenue, once the lifeblood of newspapers and magazines alike, now constitutes only 40% of the FT's revenue. "Print [advertising] isn't dead but media owners are just having to find new ways to put [different models] together," he stated at the MediaGuardian Changing Advertising Summit.

The FT, of course, is putting different models together. But that makes it sound a little bit too easy. The truth of the matter is that many print publishers have struggled to develop profitable new models. The FT, of course, along with dailies like the Wall Street Journal, occupies an enviable niche in the print world. While the perceived value of content has declined in many markets, financial content is still something many consumers and businesses are willing to pay for.

Other print publishers, of course, believe emerging platforms like the iPad can help them reestablish the value of their content. So what's the secret to the FT's early success on the iPad? Perhaps it is this: when you have developed a business model that works, the platform really doesn't matter. In other words, the business model comes before the platform, not the other way around. Unfortunately, that's probably not what other print publishing execs were hoping to hear.

Patricio Robles

Published 13 October, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2391 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

Steve Davies

Steve Davies, CEO at Fitch Media

Spot on Patricio. 

I spent a large part of my career in global accounting firms and reading the FT every day was institutionalised - paying for content (data, research, surveys) is the norm for businesses and the value of the FT is far more distinct that it would be for a consumer publication.  Besides, we didn't pay for the FT ourselves, we expensed it.

Putting such content on an iPad makes sense - it provides easier access to archives and data, and you can catch up on news in boring internal meetings in a way that you couldn't with a printed paper. 

Also, what the FT (and WSJ) do well is to provide opinion and perspectives, thereby helping executives make sense of financial news.  The urgency and value of such a rationale does not translate to most other print media.

So, the business model for an FT or WSJ has been evident for many years, the iPad merely strengthens this.

almost 6 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at Econsultancy, Centaur MarketingStaff

"the business model comes before the platform" - very true!

almost 6 years ago

Niranjan Sridharan

Niranjan Sridharan, Digital Auditor at ABC

Great post! 100% true

over 5 years ago

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