Magazine ABCs: Highs and lows

Shoot

IPC Media’s football monthly, Shoot, was up seven per cent year on year after a serial decline which saw the title’s circulation fall from nearly 120,000 in 1996 to 33,455 in the first half of 2007. A major redesign in October helped Shoot reach 35,830 in the second half of last year. New editor Frank Tennyson refocused the title for eight-to-12-year-olds, making it more fun and introduced a mascot, Shooty. ‘The whole point about [the redesign] is celebrating football and acknowledging it’s not just about the game of two halves and all the old clichés,’Tennyson said. ‘Football journalism overall can be a bit po-faced, a bit sincere and a bit earnest. We stripped that down.”

Top of the Pops

Despite the TV programme being axed more than two years ago and the magazine having no website, BBC Magazines’ Top of the Pops has seen a significant rise of 18.9 per cent year on year. Associate publisher Duncan Gray said the figure proves that teenage girls are still interested in print. ‘Girls still want to interact with magazines as a format,’he said. ‘The landscape has been diluted and they are online an incredible amount, watching less TV and reading fewer magazines, but those magazines still in the market are serving well.’Sales have been helped by a fortnightly newsletter, which is read by 10,000 members, the feedback from which determines which star appears on the cover.

She

She was relaunched in October 2005, with its editorial focused on women in their late 30s to early 40s. The title’s circulation was up 16 per cent year on year to 176,024 – its third consecutive period on period increase. Natmags is now looking at a circulation goal of 200,000, according to its managing director, Jessica Burley, who said the successful subscription model used on Good Housekeeping and Prima was being replicated at She. ‘We have taken the learning from those subscriber bases and spent money on our subscription marketing, which we hadn’t typically done for She in the past. That’s now a core part of our strategy,’Burley said.

BBC kids’ magazines

A central plank of the BBC Magazines offering, pre-school magazines have taken massive hits year on year with Balamory, Bob the Builder, Fimbles and Tweenies all down between 20 and 50 per cent. Toni Round, the managing director of children’s and youth titles, said that the market was particularly driven by new launches, and the brands that had been around a number of years were expected to be in decline. ‘We have new launches that come and refresh the portfolio,’she said. New additions such as In the Night Garden and CBeebies Weekly helped stem the slide, with ABCs of 110,350 and 65,179 respectively.

Real-life weeklies

The 2005 launch of IPC’s Pick Me Up carved out a new niche in the lucrative real-life market for titles targeting a younger readership than traditional magazines such as Take a Break and Chat. A batch of similar titles followed, with News International’s magazine arm bringing out Love It!, ACP-Natmags launching Real People and Essential Publishing following suit with Full House. Although Pick Me Up has managed to remain stable in the sector, the newer entrants have suffered steep declines in this period – the inevitable fallout from a crowding of the market. The question now is whether the struggling titles can continue to invest in TV ads and price-cutting. It’s too early to talk about closures, but in a ferociously fought marketplace, something might have to give.

Easy Cook

There was a dramatic 60 per cent year-on-year climb for the latest BBC food title, in a period of strong growth for the BBC Magazines portfolio. Easy Cook was up to 73,643 while BBC Good Food was up 4.4 per cent and Olive rose 25.3 per cent. The food sector remained stable overall, dominated by the supermarket contract magazines but with room for independents such as Delicious to make their mark. The Seven Publishing title was up 3.6 per cent year on year.

NME

There’s no doubt that under the editorship of Conor McNicholas, the NME brand has really made an impact in the youth market, with nationwide club nights, band tours, its biggest-ever awards show at the O2 Arena this spring and a truly multiplatform approach with NME Radio, TV and online coming out of the original weekly print product. But there’s no getting away from the fact that the magazine itself is under pressure in the music market, down 12.3 per cent year on year to 64,033. A ‘refresh’in July last year, aimed at encouraging reader interaction, didn’t stop a six per cent decline in the subsequent period. Despite this, IPC Ignite publishing director Paul Cheal said the magazine remained at the heart of what NME does and the editorial team was working on ‘exciting development work’due to be seen later this year.

Coast

Natmags bought Coast in July 2005 when it had a circulation of about 8,000, per quarterly edition, due to a lack of availability on the newsstand. Initially overseen by sister title Country Living’s editor Susy Smith, last year Natmags appointed a separate editor for the title and changed the frequency to monthly. It had an ABC of 36,855 in the last period. Natmags has increased distribution points and plans to grow the title further. Jessica Burley, the Natmags managing director, said: ‘We are nowhere near at the top of that sales effort. We are letting it grow organically, putting it into new stores, constantly talking to retailers about listings and developing the footprint, and every time we do that it sells a bit more.”

Max Power

Bauer Consumer Media’s modified car magazine was down a dramatic 36 per cent year on year from 71,574 to 45,806, the steepest decline in the former Emap-owned motor portfolio. Mixed results were scattered throughout – flagship luxury title Car was up 1.8 per cent year on year, but former owners Emap’s first-ever magazine, Motorcycle News was down 4.1 per cent year on year. Similarly, Bike and Performance Bikes took hits. Bauer claimed Max Power’s key competitors had invested heavily in unsustainable giveaways. Ed Kenyon, Bauer’s motoring managing director, said the performance tuning market had shifted ‘in an unprecedented way’and the company had spent the last year trialling a new approach for Max Power.

More

As experiments go, the move from fortnightly to weekly for former Emap title More was one crying out to happen since its launch in 1998. The change in frequency appears to be working. The magazine currently has a circulation of 200,033 a week compared with 271,629 a fortnightly edition in the same period in 2006. It’s the same trick that Emap applied last year with its 60-plus women’s title Yours, when it changed its frequency from monthly to fortnightly. Despite a slight fall in its fortnightly circulation, Yours’ ABC now stands at 327,072 compared to 383,577 a month before the move in January 2007.

The Big Issue

Celebrations at the Big Issue Group, where national circulation grew 20.7 per cent year on year. The Scottish edition showed the strongest circulation increase, up 29.7 per cent year on year to 31,401. The title, under new editor Paul McNamee, had a major redesign in late 2007 in an attempt to bring back lost readers and regain a sense of what the title, sold by the homeless for their benefit, was originally about. The Big Issue was up 27.4 per cent in London to 87,750, in the South West it was up by 12.9 per cent. Only the northern edition fell – down 2.1 per cent year on year. The group has been focusing on getting closer to vendors and offering a package that distinguishes it from what a spokeswoman called ‘the prevalence of disposable journalism”.

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