Publishers News UK and DC Thomson (DCT) have expressed concerns over the longevity of their print titles, despite achieving positive year-on-year growth. 

According to its latest financial report, The Sun and The Times’ publisher confirmed a profit of £1.4m in 2018, compared with £947,000 in 2017. 

However, the statutory accounts reported: “The increase in turnover was underpinned by growth in digital subscription and digital advertising revenues which, supported by the impact of cover price increases, more than offset continuing industry-wide declines in print volumes and print advertising.”

For the first time, the publisher now has more digital than print subscribers, at 51% of its total subscriber base. 

“Closing subscribers reached 502,000, a net growth of 55,000 in the year, the second-biggest year of growth since the paywall was launched,” reported the accounts. 

News UK confirmed the growth in digital subscriptions will remain key to the ongoing success of The Times and The Sunday Times. 

“Like other newspaper groups, the company faces challenges to its traditional print business model formats and shifting consumer preferences,” noted the accounts. 

However, News UK retail director Neil Spencer told RN the publisher will continue to drive footfall into stores. “We have big plans later this year to celebrate The Sun’s 50th anniversary and we continue to activate brands in-store through our REACT proposition, which is popular with brands and retailers alike.”

Scottish publisher DC Thomson said the growth in digital also presents a challenge. The owner of the UK’s top-selling regional newspaper, The Press and Journal, achieved a total revenue of £207.3m in 2018 – a £6m increase year on year. 

However, DCT director Andrew Thomson said “the core publishing business continues to trade well” in comparison to the current trend towards free digital content, adding: “This is a challenge and the board and our teams are and have been responding with both a drive for greater efficiency and innovation.”

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