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Future’s Online Income Grows 25 Percent In Q4, Knitting Holds Up Print

imageSpecial interest magazine publisher Future made revenues of £41 million and a 25 percent year-on-year increase in online advertising income for the three months to December 31. The online boost contributed to a one percent increase in ad revenue overall and offset a four percent decline in circulation revenue for its 180 titles, according to an interim trading update today.

Online now represents a quarter of overall ad revenue and web traffic has grown to 20 million unique monthly users across the company’s sites. Those are sturdy figures considering that some analysts expect consumer mag ad revenue to drop 8.5 percent this year and for online ad revenue growth to drop from 20 to four percent. Future’s full-year results are due on May 20 with an update expected on March 30.

Future CEO Stevie Spring puts the success down to catering for specialist interests that even the web doesn’t such as knitting: it publishes Simply Knitting magazine and this month launched The Knitter, priced at £5.99 and designed for advanced knitters — and while Future’s newsstand sales have suffered in the downturn, subscriptions are doing well and represent half of all sales. Spring told the BBC Today programme this morning: “There are certain segments that are inevitably drifting towards the internet, sometimes at a very fast pace but people will always wants in the area of their enthusiasm… to read a mag as well. That’s why we are managing a portfolio that includes growth as well.” More after the jump…

UK vs US: It’s a different tale for Future’s North America titles, where 45 percent of revenues came from advertising, meaning a bigger hit from companies cutting their marketing budgets. The majority of revenues in the UK are from circulation and are more closely related to the health of each title’s sector.

Gaming challenging, tech resilient: Gaming is Future’s biggest sector and made up 32 percent of its business in 08 with titles like the official magazines for Microsoft’s XBox 360 and PC Gamer. But times are tough for games producers and the US advertising environment has deteriorated, leading to a “very challenging” quarter. Technology, music and moves and its sport titles were “resilient” in Q4. A new magazine, Triathalon Plus, is currently being trialled as an extension to Future’s cycling portfolio.

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