Milestone: Digital Gains Offset Magazines’ Decline At Future

Magazine and web publisher Future has hit a key milestone in the media industry’s great transition – UK digital revenues made up for print revenue falls between October and December.

Digital circulation and advertising revenue growth of 51 percent from the previous year came thanks to Future having pushed 65 of its titles to iTunes Store upon Newsstand’s launch early in October.

The result is finally an encouraging sign of light at the end of the tunnel for legacy media businesses which have spent years attempting to transition their efforts from analogue to digital.

Future CEO Mark Wood: “We are starting to see a significant change in the shape of the business as our digital innovation enables us to reach entirely new consumers in global digital markets.”

Future’s UK revenue for the quarter still fell by two percent, but that was mostly from the loss of a separate customer publishing contract, Future reported in Wednesday’s interim earnings disclosure.

Now, for some, the reality may be dawning that, despite many digital products reaping owners dimes rather than dollars when compared with print equivalents, publishing them at scale can nevertheless return a company to pre-digital revenue growth rates.

As paidContent reported in January, Future’s free container apps for its tablet editions have been downloaded nearly 10 million times since Newsstand’s October launch, generating individual sales of over 430,000 magazines during the period.

Forty percent of tablet edition sales are subscriptions, but some of them may be short-term renewals.

“Print sales will be challenging, but we expect digital revenue to maintain a vigorous growth rate,” the company added in its market disclosure on Wednesday.

In the U.S., Future has been more challenged by the more rapid evaporation of print magazine circulations. But, after the board jettisoned CEO Stevie Spring and its finance director in October, replacement Wood has tackled the problem by selling Future’s U.S.-facing music magazines for up to $3 million and by committing to launch U.S. versions of its Radar web portals, starting with TechRadar. Cost cuts have now offset U.S. revenue falls, Wood reports.

The company did not specify print circulation trends.