Economist’s digital successes translating into profit

More than a million readers access the Economist on a mobile device each month, and more than three million of its iOS and Android apps have been downloaded, the magazine announced. At the same time, its digital-only subscribers now total more than 100,000.

At the same time, its half-year operating profit is up 6 percent, to £26.2 million, and its revenues are up 4 percent, to £164.3 million, according to the interim financial report, released by The Economist Group.

The success with increasing its digital readership across platforms and seeing increased profits can be attributed to investing in digital editions, launching new apps for Android smartphones, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s new Fire reader, in addition to apps already available for the iPad, iPhone and Kindle devices. At the same time, the demand for digital editions has “exceeded our expectations,” Rupert Pennant-Rea, the group’s chairman, said in a statement.

Tablets, e-readers and smartphones aren’t the only devices attributing to digital success; The Economist’s website is also growing, with a 45 percent rise in monthly visitors, to more than seven million, since September 2010.

And, up to a point, The Economist’s success is also due in part to “being in the right place at the right time with the right product” – an international magazine, written in English, Roy Greenslade wrote today for MediaGuardian. Add an aggressive digital strategy to that mix of good fortune, and we arrive at where The Economist is today.

“We suddenly realised that if we were making a distinction between lean-back and lean-forward, here was lean-back digital or lean-back 2.0. We made a conscious choice to avoid the web-style interactive approach. Instead, we saw the potential of delivering a better lean-back experience than we have ever achieved in print,” Economist group Chief Executive Andrew Rashbass told Greenslade.

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