Which publishers won the pandemic?

What's New in Publishing 19 May 2021 09:10

In this special episode, the Media Voices team take a look at which media companies and personalities have been the biggest winners and losers of the lockdown-era. From The Big Issue to almost every event company, we try to find the silver linings for publishers in what’s been a mostly awful year.

Chris Sutcliffe

Winner: The Big Issue

Right from the start, The Big Issue has been among the most badly affected and most quick to adapt of all media brands.

  • It launched a subscription product to help its distributors within a few short months
  • It negotiated to appear on supermarket shelves, keeping circulation revenue intact as footfall on the streets effectively vanished. 50% of its net proceeds went to supporting vendors who couldn’t safely sell the magazine any more
  • It launched new editorial products around the pandemic, including a podcast series – the Big Miss You – that was a celebration of the relationship between the magazine’s vendors and its customers

Ultimately that and its other efforts are transformational in their own right and delivered over £1m to its vendors. Editor Paul McNamee said: “I also remind them that it wasn’t The Big Issue’s money. It was yours. You and thousands like you who gave us a hand up when we had to put our hand out. You kept us here, all the way through every day and every week of the Covid crisis.”

Esther Kezia Thorpe

Future had estimated profits of over £83 million in 2020, and they also repaidfurlough cash in July. This success is carrying on into 2021 as they are expecting profitability to be ahead of current market expectations according to their latest trading statement.

But not all survived to tell the tale.

A common theme seems to be that those who were 100% reliant on advertising revenue have really struggled, while those who have multiple revenue streams have been in a better position to adapt.

This is in the context of some right-sizing at the start of the pandemic, when Immediate closed 12 titles and cut over 100 jobs.

Although no one could have seen the total annihilation of in-person events coming, it emphasises the importance of having multiple revenue streams so that if one, two, or even three streams fail, you still have a business at the end of it.

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Paul McNameeFuture plcUKImmediate MediaTravel
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