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Friends Reunited’s Profits Healthy, Despite Trailing New Social Nets

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We noted yesterday how, despite having been overtaken in the zeitgeist stakes by Facebook, Bebo and MySpace, ITV (LON:ITV) intends to continue investing in Friends Reunited, the once-pioneering social network it bought in 2005 for £120 million. The site still ranks a very respectable fifth amongst the top UK social networks, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Whilst it has grown by a miniscule 1.2 percent in the last year, head Jon Clark today tells The Guardian turnover was last year up 38 percent. That’s not thanks to the boom in online ads, which account for just 28 percent of Friends Reunited’s income, but to customers who pay a £7.50, six-month membership granting access to premium features.

Clark: “To say we’re not worried would be naive … I wouldn’t say we’re not innovative, but that we’re only innovative in areas that we know will work.” But beware – Screen Digest analyst Arash Amel tells The Guardian: “ITV is the last place for a progressive social networking site to end up. I’m sure it’s making money but that isn’t going to last. Friends Reunited as a brand has not merged well with ITV, and it is a bit late now if they are thinking of bringing that social network around ITV.com.”