The Guardian’s director of commercial operations, Juliet Scott-Crowford, revealed on Thursday for the first time ever the number of people that have joined the “Membership” scheme it launched in September last year.
It has has already managed to sign up 35,000 people, Scott-Crowford said at the newspaper’s Changing Media Summit conference in London, although it is not clear how many of those members have opted for free versus paid access.
Guardian Membership comes in three tiers: Friends, where readers can sign up for free; Partners who pay £15 per month (or £135 a year); and Patrons, who pay £60 a month (or £540 a year.)
The different levels of Guardian Membership open up access to or discounts on tickets for live events, festivals, debates, classes, and some free gifts. The Guardian says some 20,000 people have attended the 70 events it has held since launching the scheme in September.
Speaking to Business Insider in January, Guardian deputy CEO David Pemsel said the Membership scheme’s value isn’t just in adding a new revenue stream, but that it now has the digital infrastructure to take payments and gather more data: Both of which can be difficult when a site does not operate behind a paywall.
Nevertheless, The Guardian has basically invented a new revenue stream that did not even exist before. Even if just half of those 35,000 took up the yearly “Partner” option and the rest free, that would still mean around £2.4 million in brand new revenue. Not massive, but every little helps in a market suffering from terminal print revenue declines.
The Guardian’s parent company, Guardian Media Group, reported a 3% lift in group revenues to £215 million in the year to March 29 2015, according to an unaudited trading update published earlier this month. The company told Campaign Magazine it expects its pre-tax losses will remain broadly flat at around £30 million.
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