The following is an excerpt from an interview with John Ridding of Financial Times at Portfolio.com
It looks like they are doing well, and the threats from the Internet and the new technologies are turning in new business opportunities. It seems to me that the key to their success is the fact that they have scores of very loyal customers, who will consider anything that the FT does, online or offline, as a “must-have”.
“We’re seeing strong numbers both on the print side and online. On the print side, I think we are certainly the only quality newspaper in the U.K. and possibly the world that’s increasing circulation despite the fact that we’ve put up prices in the U.K. and in many markets.”
“So I think that underscores three things: one, the loyalty of our audience; two, the incredible news that’s going on around the world in business and finance; and three, if it’s must-have information, people will pay for it.”
“The thinking was there are these huge waves of audience and traffic driven by what we think of as the wave machines of the internet — aggregators, blogs, the Drudge Report, all of which drive huge amounts of traffic. The problem is, when you put subscription walls around content sites, these waves of traffic can just bounce back off them.”“Quite often for traditional publishers, new technologies are seen as a bit threat or challenge, and there are challenges resulting from it, but I think the opportunities way outweigh the challenges. Video’s a really good example. We’re now producing about 100 videos a month. Our video downloads have doubled to about 30,000 per week. Editorially, it’s fantastic because it gives you that immediacy.
From a commercial standpoint, meanwhile, it’s fantastic because you can charge very premium rates, and it also gives us access to ad budgets that we never had access to. People talk about the threat to print advertising, and how it’s a shrinking pie and we’re all fighting like wildcats for our share of it, which is true, but people forget that new budgets are being opened to us because of new technology, so we can go after TV budgets and video budgets that we couldn’t before. So it’s important of itself, video, but it’s symbolically also very important as an illustration of the kind of opportunities we wouldn’t have had five years ago.”