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The Financial Times is still signing up new digital subscribers, but at the slowest rate since iPad lit up its business model in mid-2010.
It attracted 17,000 new digital subscribers in the final three months of 2011, parent Pearson (NYSE: PSO) reported on Monday (total now 267,000). That is 6.8 percent more subscribers than it had in November – the smallest quarterly growth rate it has posted since iPad’s launch.
The FT’s iPad and iPhone app came off iTunes Store in August 2011 after FT Group and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) failed to reach agreement over Apple’s wish to take 30 percent of in-app subscription payments and to keep the majority of data about subscribers.
Two thousand of the FT’s new 2011 subs were corporate licenses. In the U.S., print circulation was overtaken by these digital subscribers for the first time.
In the wake of the 2009 ad downturn, the publisher is happy to be attracting more paying readers to offset what it still sees as a “weak and volatile” advertising market. “Growth in online advertising and the luxury category was offset by weakness in corporate advertising,” it says.
Advertising is now the minority of FT revenue, with content sales 58 percent. And digital is now 47 percent of revenue.
Pearson said FT Group 2011 operating profit rose 27 percent to £76 million on six percent higher revenue of £427 million.
Meanwhile, The Economist, of which Pearson owns 50 percent, saw a 100,000 digital circulation, pushing weekly cross-format circulation up by one percent. See Pearson full earnings.