FT proves content is king
Publishing companies have seen more upheaval in their business models than most in the digital age. Whilst players in the industry wait to hear Rupert Murdoch’s take on how to make money out of previously free content, it was the preliminary financial results of the FT’s owners, Pearson, last week that caught my eye. Alongside other subscription numbers growth, they announced that users of their Chinese language website FTChinese.com rose 12% last year to an impressive 1.4 million.
In FT’s case an increase in users doesn’t just equate to more advertising revenues since they also charge users to subscribe to their online news service. In fact, advertising only accounts for 19% of FT’s revenues (down from 52% in 2000) demonstrating that people will pay for high quality content.
Clearly there’s a lot of demand from Chinese speakers for well-written, online business news which FT has successfully tapped into. FT employ a team of Chinese journalists to create the content on their business news site. Compare this with struggling La Tribune’s dalliance with translated content. They added a machine translation function to their website last July. Cue countless blogs and articles with an assortment of translation bloopers extracted from the site which didn’t do La Tribune’s aspirations of appealing to new readers many favours.
Whilst the mainstream publishers will be concentrating on every move Murdoch and his News International group make, Pearson believe they can out-perform by pushing their more niche content out to overseas markets. They’ve identified further international expansion as one of their primary strategic goals with particular focus on China, India, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Their shares hit an eight-year high following the results announcement last week showing that the markets too share Pearson’s belief in this strategy.