Digital editions helping magazines support falling print circulation

Digital editions are propping up falling print circulation for a large number of magazines, according to an analysis of the latest figures from ABC.

The analysis of combined circulation by PPA showed that six out of 55 titles for which a year-on-year comparison could be made upped their circulation in the first six months of 2013, despite a fall in print numbers.

Among those to have turned around declining print circulation through digital editions were Conde Nast titles GQ and Wired, Dennis Publishing’s Women’s Fitness and The Economist’s UK edition.

Grand Designs and New Scientist’s US and Canadian sales were the other titles that PPA revealed had turned falling print circulation into a growth in overall circulation.

Women’s Fitness's digital performance was particularly impressive, turning a 7.25 per cent print decline into overall growth of 0.1 per cent on the back of a 270 per cent rise in its digital circulation.

GQ posted a 27 per cent rise in digital to help turn a print circulation fall of 1.97 per cent into an overall increase of 0.17 per cent. Grand Designs’ overall circulation was boosted by 4.73 per cent despite losing 0.62 per cent of its print circulation, thanks to digital growth of 141 per cent.

Out of the 55 magazines able to compare digital circulation with the same period last year, 21 – or 38 per cent – had at least doubled their numbers.

The biggest increase was for BBC History Magazine, which grew digital circulation by 693 per cent to 8,770, while Conde Nast’s flagship title Vogue saw its digital circulation increase by 463 per cent to 7,601.

From a smaller base, Hearst Magazine’s TV title Inside Soap saw digital growth of 585 per cent to post a circulation figure of 1,686.

OK Magazine was another winner when it came to digital growth. The Northern & Shell title increased circulation of its digital edition by 346 per cent to 4,402. The publisher yesterday revealed it had pumped £25m into “digital transformation” of its portfolio.

PPA said the analysis of circulation only included titles that opted to report both print and digital figures to ABC. To be included, digital editions must contain no less than 95 per cent and no more than 125 per cent of the print edition’s editorial content.

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