Future plc Faces Revenue Challenges and Focuses on U.S. Expansion

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Future plc, a global media company, recently reported stagnant revenue for the first half of its fiscal year, with the U.S. segment of the business experiencing a decline in audience and revenue. The company anticipates a continued challenging environment in the second half of 2023, signaling a need for strategic improvements. Future plc plans to strengthen its U.S. sales strategy and embrace short-form video as part of its focus for the remainder of the fiscal year.

According to CFO Penny Ladkin-Brand, the macro environment and audience performance pose ongoing challenges, leading the company to expect no improvement in the second half of the year. The new CEO, Jon Steinberg, who previously served at BuzzFeed, highlighted the importance of diversifying traffic sources to drive audience growth. This entails building up home pages, leveraging social traffic, email marketing, and exploring new platforms like Apple News. Steinberg’s strategic vision aligns with that of BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti, who has also emphasized similar strategies.

In terms of financial performance, Future plc’s total revenues for the first half of the 2023 fiscal year remained relatively flat year over year at £404.7 million ($502 million), compared to £404.3 million ($501.6 million) in the same period of 2022. However, organic revenue experienced a decline of 10%. Operating profit decreased by 5% to £83.9 million ($104 million) compared to £88.4 million ($109.7 million) in the previous year.

While total ad revenue increased by 10% to £132 million ($163.8 million), organic ad revenue declined by 15%. Digital ad revenue saw a 7% increase to £116 million ($143.9 million), but organic digital advertising revenue dropped by 18%. The company’s affiliate revenue also experienced a decrease of 4% (£133.5 million or $165.7 million) or 10% organically.

Despite these challenges, Future plc saw positive growth in newsletter subscribers, which increased by 52% to over 15 million subscribers. The company’s content on Apple News attracted 10 million users in March, and its social followers increased by 34% to over 180 million.

Audience diversification remains a priority for Future plc. Approximately half of the company’s audience comes from “off-platform” sources such as social media, newsletters, magazines, events, and Apple News.