Telegraph Media Group has reached a record 522,000 paying subscribers to its digital and print journalism, the company said on Thursday.
Digital subscription growth increased dramatically during the first eight months of the year, driven by strong interest in coronavirus coverage, according to a trading update from the company that publishes the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph and Telegraph.co.uk.
The milestone of 500,000 paying subscribers was passed in May and the total as of 8 September was 522,000 - a 23.4pc growth rate for the year to date.
Subscribers increased by 60,000 (16.4pc) from 363,000 in December 2018 to 423,000 by December last year. The company now has 6.8m registered users, up from 3.6m in December 2018.
Nick Hugh, chief executive of Telegraph Media Group, said: "2019 represented another successful year for TMG as we continued our transformation to a subscription-first business. Our substantial and consistent subscription growth has continued into 2020, with the important milestone of 500,000 subscribers surpassed in May 2020.”
Digital subscription revenues increased by 48.9pc to £17.8m in 2019, with average net revenue per digital subscriber up 7.6pc to £99.40.
Average revenue per subscriber reached £193.90 as of December 2019, up from £191.80 a year earlier. Subscription revenues are also expected to grow strongly in 2020.
Operating profit before exceptional items increased to £14.3m in 2019, up from £8.3m in 2018, driven by the growth in digital subscriptions and cost reductions in non-editorial areas.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation pre-exceptional items increased to £23.6m in 2019, up from £17.2m in the previous year. The company has continued to invest in journalism, technology platforms and digital operations as part of its “Subscriber First Strategy”.
Mr Hugh added: “With average revenue per subscriber also continuing to increase in line with our plan, we remain on track to deliver a sustainable and profitable business model. This underpins our continued investment in quality journalism - something that has become ever more important in these uncertain times.”
Turnover was £263.9m for the year ended December 2019, down from £278m in 2018, reflecting the continued industry-wide structural decline in print advertising and newspaper circulation.
The business has proven resilient and successfully maintained all customer operations through the Covid-19 crisis, the company said.
The Telegraph has repaid all furlough monies initially taken as part of the Government’s Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme and has not needed to access government loan schemes.