A decade on, AFR has 6711 subscribers to its paywall

Fairfax Media has for the first time disclosed how many online subscribers it has to the Australian Financial Review.

The company has revealed that afr.com.au has 6711 subscribers.  

The company charges $1140 per year for an annual digital subscription.

Based on its stated policy that it does not discount subscriptions to the site, this would indicate, at best, revenues of about $640,000 per month, or$7.6m per year.

In addition, the company said it has a database of 38,335 “active” users who have paid to use the site on an occassional basis at some point in the past, mostly since November 2009.

The paid afr.com.au was launched around 2002. The company has relaunched afr.com.au several times in the last four years at a reported cost of “millions of dollars”. Its most recent major relaunch was in November 2009.

The company also said the 6711 subscribers is a 53% growth on 12 months ago – suggesting that it had just 4,400 or so subscribers at the same time last year.

The AFR’s announcement coincided with the release of circulation figures for the AFR’s print edition which saw a year-on-year decline of 3.5% of its weekday edition to 74,733 copies; and a decline of 6.8% to 78,783 copies for its weekend edition.

The decision to release the numbers also came days after speculation in The Australian over the future of Financial Review Group boss Michael Gill’s future under new Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood.

Gill said in the announcement of the afr.com.au numbers: “We made an early commitment based on the importance of developing a sustainable business model that would underpin the flexibility required to shift with evolving customer needs. We knew if we got this right that our audience would see the value in paying for quality content. This is exactly what has happened and we couldn’t be more confident of both the model and in where we find ourselves today. ”


  1. ntandy
    11 Feb 11
    5:54 am

  2. Actually Tim, 53% growth in 12 months for a subscription that retails at over thousand bucks looks pretty good to me. Looks like relaunch number 4 may have done the trick.
    More importantly though, from the figures you have provided the Fin looks like it has reached an important inflection point. For 12 months now it has been growing paid digital subscribers faster than it has been losing print subscribers, both in actual numbers and of course in percentages.
    As to the revs, I imagine there’s any number of rivals who would kill for revenue like that, given the paltry returns that The Oz, Business Spectator and others are getting from their free sites at $2 cpm (and falling).

  3. bob H
    11 Feb 11
    8:52 am

  4. Agree on that last point by tandy. Just checked the Nielsen data for the last 12 months in mkt Intel and Biz Spectator’s pages impressions are down by almost 50%. The Fin is up about 39%.
    Also Tim I think you might be underestimating the Fin’s capacity to gouge a price online. They charge 10 to 100 times their competitors rates and they apparently get the price. (They have banned the networks and Google which probably helps) You couldn’t get on their site late last year for almost two months because it was sold out.
    Looking at the scribblings on the beer mat in front of me I would estimate their ad revs at between 200k and 400k a month. Business Spectator on current form will be lucky to generate a million all year. I reckon the OZ business pages would struggle to do $2M. The Business Day network might come close.
    And as much fun as it is to kick to stuffing out of the Fin, at least they stuck to their guns on banning Auto refresh. In fact I think they are still the only major newspaper site that refuses to auto-refresh (happy to be corrected) . Good on them for that!

  5. Logic
    11 Feb 11
    10:09 am

  6. 6710 more than I expected.

  7. Anon
    11 Feb 11
    11:21 am

  8. It would be interested to know the UB’s and Page views.
    6710 subscribers certainly might not be viewing it every day.., although i could be wrong…?

  9. SCD
    11 Feb 11
    11:35 am

  10. On the AFR website the subscription cost of $1140 is for either a newspaper and online package or a online only package. Does the 6711 subscribers cover both of these options?

    If so, the revenue projections and comment about replacing print subscribers with online subscribers would be inaccurate.

  11. m0nty
    11 Feb 11
    12:07 pm

  12. Business Spectator might have smaller revenue, but it would have a hell of a lot smaller cost base. Margins are the issue here, not revenue on its own. Fairfax’s burn rate is colossal.

  13. Sam G
    11 Feb 11
    12:56 pm

  14. @ntandy

    re: $2 CPMs – http://www.firstdigital.com.au...../ratecard/

    (Tim – sorry to spruik a link, but just had to set the record straight).

  15. sofakingwetoddit
    11 Feb 11
    1:14 pm

  16. how many of the 6710 subs are made up of companies paying out big numbers to have all employee access as well???
    I am wrong more often that right… but last I heard the AFR were doing big discounts for company subscriptions and that a large proportion of their subs list was made up from that…

  17. Bart Jawien
    11 Feb 11
    1:45 pm

  18. Really nice piece Tim. Their numbers are surprising! However, I believe this is where most news-boards are headed … Here’s a questions for you? Would you consider putting up a pay-wall onto mUmBRELLA given your strong following?

  19. mumbrella
    11 Feb 11
    2:08 pm

  20. Hi Bart,

    For our particular model, advertising based on a decent niche audience is a good model. I’m not convinced a paywall would outstrip that.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  21. Cam
    11 Feb 11
    2:11 pm

  22. @Sam G – you jumped in before me … I was going to suggest to ntandy that from everything I hear and see, First Dig arent doing $2cpm deals.

    In general I think being able to migrate less than 10% of your circ audience to your online sub model over a 10 year period is extraordinarily poor although when you consider the quality of the product compared with other premium priced financial services its not surprising. 10 minutes on Google will show that you can get a far more comprehensive suite of financial tools for less than the AFR is charging.

  23. James
    11 Feb 11
    2:14 pm

  24. Hi Tim interesting post =)

    their seems to be a problem with the link at the bottom of the post but.


  25. A
    11 Feb 11
    2:31 pm

  26. Hello Tim,

    There is a double http:// in the link, making the browser go crazy!


  27. JC
    11 Feb 11
    3:05 pm

  28. @SAM G, Rate cards are just a number and highly negotiable!

  29. mumbrella
    11 Feb 11
    3:18 pm

  30. Thans for flagging that, A.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  31. Stuart
    13 Feb 11
    10:07 am

  32. 6000 is low. Be interesting to see how many afr newspapers are paid for by individuals. Correspondingly how many online subs are individual v corp.

    Tim would be worth a call to Business Spectator to ask them the truth about CPMs. They are double digits I am sure. Much more interesting though will be the question of how many subs eureka report has.

    My tip will be 11000

    The AFR is a great brand. Each time I pick it up I am enthusiastic and by the time I put it down I am disappointed.

  33. Sam G
    13 Feb 11
    9:42 pm

  34. @JC @Stuart

    True, rate cards are a starting point for casual advertisers.

    But – any self respecting publisher who spruiks quality context yet discounts their rates by 90% needs to go back to negotiation school.

  35. mumbrella
    13 Feb 11
    11:18 pm

  36. In response to the first comment and Stuart’s comment, I have it from two different sources – one within the wider industry and one closer to Business Spectator – that the $2 cpm quoted above is far too low. I’ve heard numbers well above $50.

    And $5m annual ad revenues wouldn’t be too far off, I understand.

    I further understand that Eureka Report’s individual subscribers numbers – at $385 each – is currently more than 15,000 – which amounts to something above $5m as well.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  37. Nick
    14 Feb 11
    12:18 pm

  38. Hi Tim,

    I’m sure you’ve double-checked (you know what they say about stats…) but 53% growth is so good I’m just wondering if that’s meant to be a 53% growth of *new* subscribers – for example in 2009 they had 100 new subscribers, in 2010 they had 153 new subscribers.

    If they really have grown by over 2000 new subscribers, I’d be interested in an article (if you haven’t already written it) on how they went about that and at what cost. Given that they’ve been trying to raise subscriptions for a number of years that’s a pretty amazing result.