Commentary

Guardian's Target Of 2 Million Paid Supporters Looks Attainable

Guardian Media Group reported that its readership had surgedduring the pandemic, putting the newspaper publisher on course to reach its goal of 2 million paying supporters by next year. Revenue rose 0.9% to £225.5 million ($313.2 million) as subscription growth offset declines in advertising sales, the company announced.

The publisher of the Guardian swung to an adjusted operating profit of £3.1 million ($4.3 million) from a loss of £14.6 million a year earlier on reductions in print, marketing and staff costs. About 125 employees were let go, including many who accepted voluntary severance, according to an annual report for the year ended March 28.

Guardian Media is owned by the nonprofit Scott Trust, whose endowment fund and other cash holdings grew 20% to £1.15 billion. The trust subsidizes the publisher’s operations with investment returns. Guardian Media’s adjusted net operating cash outflow of £15.6 million was within the trust’s funding target of £25 million.
Advertising revenue fell 15% from a year earlier to £61.3 million, while print reader revenue slipped 6.8% to £70.8 million. Its “other” revenue category that includes content licensing, events and philanthropy dropped 27% to £24.7 million.
Digital reader revenue was a major bright spot that helped to offset these declines, surging 61% to £68.7 million. Like other publishers, Guardian experienced strong reader growth as many homebound consumers sought out digital content.
Digital subscriptions grew 46% to 401,000, while recurring contributions gained 24% to 560,000. Single contributions jumped 83% to 585,000, while print subscriptions rose 8% to 120,000.
Adding those numbers shows a total of 1.67 million paying supporters, which is getting close to Guardian Media’s goal of 2 million by next year. The target is achievable, even if the pandemic pulled demand forward for paying subscriptions.

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