Embrace the alternative

PaidContent reported yesterday that, for the Financial Times, digital has overtaken print circulation in the United States.

Over the last two years, the FT has show steady growth in the number of digital subscriptions, up from 126,000 in March 2010 to 267,000 in February 2012 (+112%). Notably, the newspaper has added 37,000 digital subscribers since it left the iTunes store last summer.

Although PaidContent rightly points out that the rate of growth has slowed, it's not clear what's behind the trend. Dropping its app and relying on HTML5 strikes me as a big move for a publication like the FT, but it has continued to grow its digital profile after the change.

Publishers have expressed strong interest in developing options that might pressure Apple to reconsider its terms (generally said to be a 30% share of digital revenue for subscriptions run through its platform). Some larger publishers have banded together to form Next Issue Media, whose effect on Apple is uncertain.

Last week, I suggested that book publishers could better compete with Amazon by working to make content open, accessible and interoperable. That's not the same as giving the content way.

In moving to HTML5, the FT has shown that a publication can continue to gain both acceptance and revenue across digital platforms. Publishers concerned about the dominance of certain intermediaries might benefit by embracing the alternative.

A bit of disclosure: The FT has been a client, although we are not currently doing any work for the newspaper. One of its senior executives, Greg Zorthian, has worked as part of Magellan, and he had no knowledge or or involvement in the creation of this post.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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