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AOP and Deloitte report digital publishing revenues up by 31.9% in Q1 2021

Published: 24 Aug 2021

London, UK, 24 August 2021: Digital publishing revenues in the UK increased to £152 million in Q1 2021, up by 31.9% in comparison to Q1 2020, according to the latest quarterly Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index (DPRI) from the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte.

During Q1 2021, display advertising held its place as the largest category by revenue for digital publishers; with income reaching £53.6 million, an increase of 4.7% against Q1 2020. Revenue from subscriptions also contributed positively, growing by 48.8% compared to Q1 2020. 

Both B2B and B2C publishers saw double-digit growth in digital revenues in Q1 2021. B2C publisher revenues grew by 34.2%, relative to Q1 2020, from £104.3 million to £139.2 million, fuelled by large increases in subscriptions (64%). B2B revenue increased by 11.1%, relative to Q1 2020, driven by increases in subscriptions (4.7%) and display advertising (18.7%). 

On a 12-month rolling basis ending March 2021, total digital revenue increased by 9.5% to £517.4 million, driven by substantial growth in subscriptions which increased to £123.1 million over the same period. Overall revenues across both B2B and B2C publishers increased, growing 1% and 10.5% respectively on a 12-month rolling basis. 

Categories that did not perform as well in the 12-months ending March 2021 included recruitment, sponsorship, and online video income, which were down by 46.9%, 17.2% and 23.1% respectively since March 2020. 

Publisher confidence in the industry continues to remain very strong, mirroring the broader economic optimism. Perhaps influenced by the learnings of the pandemic, 78% of AOP’s board members surveyed believe cost reduction will once again be a high priority for their business over the next 12 months, up from 14% since this time last year.  

Dan Ison, Lead Partner for Telecommunications, Media and Entertainment, Deloitte, commented: “To see growth of 49% in subscription revenue in the first quarter of 2021 is staggering – in comparison, we saw a slight 4% increase in first three months of 2019 – and a clear sign that the industry may be building back stronger following the impact of the pandemic. New data from Deloitte’s Digital Consumer Trends research highlights that consumers aged 18-24 are the most likely age group to have access to a paid news-site or magazine subscription. Galvanising loyalty particularly among this age group should continue to be a key priority for publishers in the year ahead, alongside the development of content formats that appeal to new readers and subscribers.” 

Richard Reeves, Managing Director, AOP, commented: “The rapid increase in digital revenues across almost all categories is extremely heartening, especially after the lows of last year. While there are clearly still long-term impacts of the pandemic it’s great to see the exceptional value and quality environments digital publishers can deliver is being recognised by the industry, demonstrated by the incredible performance in Q1 2021. With substantial growth in subscriptions, it’s great to see publishers continue to innovate and expand their offerings alongside digital advertising.” 



Notes to Editor


UK Digital Publisher Revenue (based on revenues for AOP publisher members)

AOP & Deloitte DPRI report


MAT to March 21 vs. MAT to March 20

(% change)

Q1 2021 vs. Q1 2020

(% change)

Total DPRI revenue



Display Advertising






Online Video









Other Classified









About the DPRI Report

The Q1 2021 DPRI report – conducted by AOP and Deloitte – is based on a survey of 16 UK digital publishers comprising 12 B2C publishers and four B2B publishers. The aim of the report is to provide an overview of revenue levels across multiple channels and platforms – as well as insight into publisher sentiment – and to benchmark these findings against previous quarters.


While the DPRI revenue index records a look-back of data over Q1 2021; the publisher sentiment index considers Board member observations given in Q2 2021 to provide a timelier understanding of current feelings. This is a reporting change implemented in 2019.


The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.


About Association of Online Publishers

Association of Online Publishers (AOP) is an industry body representing digital publishing companies that create original, branded, quality content. AOP champions the interests of media owners from diverse backgrounds including newspaper and magazine publishing, TV and radio broadcasting, and pure online media. For more information, please visit


About Deloitte

In this press release, references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity.


Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.


Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NSE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK’s leading professional services firms.


For more information, please visit


AOP Press Contact

Kerry Ritchie, GingerMay


Tel: +44 (0) 203 642 1124


Deloitte Press Contact

Lizzie Tantam, Deloitte PR


Tel: +44 (0) 207 007 2911



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