The New Statesman grew its paid-for digital subscriptions by 75 per cent in 2020, part of a longer-term increase in the brand’s readership that has led to 77 per cent revenue growth from subscriptions over three years. Print subscriptions also rose by 12 per cent last year, but the coronavirus pandemic adversely affected news-stand sales.
In a survey conducted for the Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2020, 64 per cent of readers in the UK cited “distinctive journalism” as their primary reason for subscribing to any publication, and 35 per cent of those readers said that they subscribe for particular writers they like. This agrees with what our readers tell us about why they subscribe: for Stephen Bush, Anoosh Chakelian, Jeremy Cliffe, Emily Tamkin, Sarah Manavis and Ailbhe Rea, among many others.
Our investments in technology and data journalism are paying off, as is our expansion into international coverage, led by Jeremy Cliffe. Our coverage of the US election in particular was widely praised for its insight and accuracy.
The New Statesman website is also bringing in large numbers of new readers, both in the UK and globally. In 2020 traffic to our website reached its highest level since we introduced a metered paywall, with around 2 million unique visitors a month. In July 2020 we removed programmatic advertising, which can interfere with readers’ experience and incentivise publishers to chase high numbers of page views rather than an engaged readership. As a result, we’ve seen a greater increase in engagement and registrations, which rose by 83 per cent over the year to more than 200,000.
We’ve further expanded readership through our email newsletters, which now have more than 150,000 sign-ups and include Morning Call, World Review, The Dress Down, the newly launched This Week in Business and From the Archive, which showcases our incomparable 107-year-old archive.
Our podcasts, which include the recently launched World Review, have also grown significantly, reaching tens of thousands of listeners per week.
Our editor-in-chief, Jason Cowley, describes the current moment as a “multifaceted crisis”. Our response, he said, has been “to invest in journalism. In recent months, Philip Collins, John Gray, Chris Deerin, Rachel Cunliffe and Louise Perry have joined the team as exclusive NS writers, and we are planning to hire even more outstanding writers. The New Statesman has successfully rebuilt from a low base over recent years, and we can now accelerate our expansion – which includes international expansion. We have a long way to go but we are making excellent progress.”
The New Statesman Media Group chief product officer, Martin Ashplant, says that “following a period of significant, recent digital expansion, our focus is firmly on engagement and communities. This rapid growth in digital readership and paid-for subscriptions shows that the strategy is working.”
The NS Group chief marketing officer, Robert Jay, agrees that quality journalism is the deciding factor. ”Revenues are up as audiences increasingly recognise the quality of our products. To have paid digital subscriptions up 75 per cent and paid print subscriptions up 12 per cent in such a short time is testament to the vision of the team.”
This growth is a trend we expect to continue – our target is to hit 50,000 subscribers over the next few years – and we will continue to launch new products for our subscribers and engaged readers. We are very excited about our new website, which is coming soon.
Our parent company, New Statesman Media Group, is also expanding, having launched four new websites – City Monitor, Tech Monitor, Investment Monitor and Energy Monitor – in a year and hired into more than 70 new roles, including journalists, data scientists and technologists.