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Financial Times is an international business newspaper based in London.
The FT was founded in 1888 and has been owned since 1957 by the British publishing conglomerate Pearson, which also owns a 50 percent stake in the British foreign-affairs magazine The Economist. In late 2012, a change in Pearson’s CEO led to suspicions that the FT might be sold, though Pearson executives denied those reports.
The FT had a worldwide circulation of about 600,000 as of 2012, about half in print and half online, with the majority of subscribers outside of the United Kingdom. The United States, with about 137,000 subscribers, has a higher Times circulation than Britain. The FT also had 340,000 paid digital subscribers as of late 2013, with about half of those subscriptions bought by companies for their employees. Its digital subscriptions surpassed its print subscriptions in mid-2012, and its digital revenue accounted for 30% of its overall revenue in early 2013. Later that year, the paper announced it would cut down to a single global print edition as part of a shift toward digital-only publication.
The FT covers international business and financial news and is targeted toward high-ranking business officials around the world, and has launched a Latin American website and mobile app. In 2013, its subscribers included more than 160,000 users who accessed the paper through business licenses. It has been considered one of the world’s best newspapers.
The paper’s holding company, the Financial Times Group, has been profitable throughout the late 2000s, though its revenues have been buoyed in part by the success of the Economist. The paper had an editorial staff of more than 650 as of 2013.
Since 2002, the FT has charged for its online content. The FT’s metered model, which it adopted in 2007, is seen as one of the most successful examples of paid news content online, with 47 percent of the Financial Times Group’s revenue coming from its digital operation and more revenue coming from subscriber fees than from print advertising. The metered model has served as the blueprint for a wide range of newspaper paid-content strategies, most notably The New York Times’.
The FT charges between $5 and $7.50 per week for access to its website. Since 2007, it has allowed a number of free articles per month without a subscription, though those free articles were eliminated in 2010 for all visitors except those who arrive via search engines. In November 2012, it moved to make all of its blogs free, though users had to register to view them.
The FT introduced daily and weekly passes in 2010, part of a micropayment plan the paper had been planning since mid-2009. The FT has also introduced two different for-pay, high-end social networking services.
Gathering user data is a significant part of the FT’s paid-content strategy. As of 2013, the site had 5 million registered users and a data team of about 30.
In March 2011, the FT announced a web redesign, including using the print edition’s signature pink background and added blog and video content, in a bid to drive more print and web subscribers. Two years later, it announced a digital-first strategy for production that included cuts of about 25 jobs.
In 2013, the FT launched a service called fastFT to provide breaking-news dispatches of 100 to 250 words on both a standalone site and the FT’s main site.
The FT released an iPad app in May 2010, which requires a web subscription after viewing 10 articles. The following year, the FT released a web-based app available in the Apple store, as a way to avoid being subject to Apple’s revenue restrictions for in-app subscriptions. It was pulled from Apple’s App Store two months later. Its was the first mobile news app to use the web language HTML5. In April 2012, the FT announced that its web app had been used by more than 2 million people, far more than had used the App Store version. By early 2013, mobile users accounted for 33% of its traffic and 15% of its digital subscriptions. Mobile advertising accounted for 12% of the FT’s digital ad revenues in 2013 as well.
Video: Stephen Pinches of FT.com on online video strategy
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