Magazines ABCs overview: sales down but consumer spend flat

Most of the major consumer magazine publishers saw drops in circulation in the first half of this year.
According to the Periodical Publishers Association the total annualised circulation of UK consumer magazines (including bulks and frees) was up 123m copies – 8.7 per cent year-on-year – to 1.52 billion. But total annualised actively purchased sales were down 3.4 per cent to 1.23 billion.

Total annualised consumer expenditure on magazines remained virtually flat at £1.64bn.

How the main consumer magazine publishers fared:

  • Future Publishing boasted the biggest overall average percentage circulation increase – up 23.8 per cent to 712,997. CEO Stevie Spring has been rapidly turning around the company since joining in July 2006 when she made a string of changes to the business including the closure or sale of more than 50 under-performing magazines. Gaming titles saw healthy increases – Playstation World up 33.7 per cent year-on-year to 22,903 and Official Nintendo Magazine up 27.6 per cent to 61,159.James Binns, publishing director of Future’s games portfolio, hinted they could be stealing lads’ mags readers. He said: ‘There’s increased recognition and growing respect at large for video gaming and a desire to communication with our loyal readership. In a media landscape obsessed with the collapse of lads mags – the growth of our games portfolio is predominantly fuelled by the same enthusiastic male audience.”
  • BBC Magazines – BBC Worldwide was up 3.6 per cent to 3,139,746 and BBC Magazines Bristol was down 0.3 per cent to 792,782. When combined they managed a comparitively good overall increase of 3.23 per cent. Science title Focus posted an impressive rise of 14.1 per cent year on year to 70,122 – its ninth consecutive period of growth and its highest circulation in ten years. Publisher Andrew Davies promised a ‘striking redesign’for the October issue. Monthly Cookery magazine Easy Cook rose 23.2 per cent to 81,484 and fortnightly teen title Top of the Pops rose 26.4 per cent to 130,174. Titles that suffered for the publisher included Teletubbies magazine – down 42.7 per cent to 31,576 and Doctor Who Adventures Magazine down 39.5 per cent to 93,741. The publisher also posted a debut ABC for kids’ football title, Match of the Day, in at 85,707.
  • Upmarket publisher Conde Nast was the only other mainstream consumer publisher to see an increase in circulation, up 1.1 per cent to 1,590,238. Most titles remained relatively steady, and none were down year on year. The most significant increase was from Vanity Fair, up 3 per cent to 101,166. World of Interiors also saw a rise, up 2.9 per cent to 67,575. The publisher’s biggest title, Glamour, held it’s top spot in the women’s sector and saw a turnaround in sales, up 1.2 per cent to 551,351.
  • Elle publisher Hachette Filipacchi remained relatively steady, down only 0.2 per cent overall to 1,168,134. Whilst teen title Sugar crashed 15.1 per cent down to 158,835, All About Soap put on an impressive 20.1 per cent to 105,198 and women’s monthly Psychologies continued to grow, up 15.4 per cent to 150,112. Judith Secombe, publisher of Psychologies and Red magazines, put the growth or the title down to the originality of the content – which was mimicked by the short-lived Shape earlier this year. She said: ‘If you want an example of a product that has excited and engaged a new constituency of readers without resorting to gimmicks this is it.”
  • Haymarket Consumer Media saw a small decrease of 2.8 per cent to 593,771. Football monthly FourFourTwo put on the biggest increase, up 4.2 per cent year on year to 107,987. Women’s monthly Eve didn’t fair too well under new editor Nic McCarthy who joined in January, dropping 5.1 per cent to 155,076.
  • H Bauer Publishing was down 4.2 per cent to 3,363,591, the only title to see an increase being Total TV Guide which was up 0.2 per cent to 1,394,269. Weekly real life title Take a Break dropped below the million mark, down 3.6 per cent to 981,504, but still retained the top spot in its sector. Women’s weekly Bella continued to lose sales, down 22.6 per cent to 191,547. The title once sold over half a million copies, but has been in decline since the turn of the century, a redesign last year with increased celebrity content increasing the decline further.
  • Magazine giant IPC Media dropped 4.8 per cent to 6,518,715, but chief executive Sylvia Auton remained positive about the company’s performance. ‘There are some great IPC results in this latest round of ABC figures, despite very challenging conditions,’she said: ‘IPC is comprehensively outperforming the market at newsstand across the weekly and monthly sectors in both volume and value.’Whilst Loaded, Nuts and NME all saw declines in print circulation – group product reports for the brands showed they all saw expansion online. NME’s ABCe rose 107 per cent to 3,501,326 unique users, Loaded’s ABCe increased 51 per cent year on year to 311,610 and Nuts shot up 121 per cent year on year to 1,398,243. The biggest print increase came from Golf Monthly, up 10 per cent year on year to 82,246, increasing its newsstand market share to 35.7 per cent.
  • Esquire publisher NatMag dropped 5.7 per cent year on year to 3,143,677, the worst hit being the three former ACP-NatMag titles that NatMag bought out from partner Australian Consolidated Press in March this year. Real people dropped 25.6 per cent year on year to 230,135, Reveal dropped 20.2 per cent to 277,002 and Best dropped 11.5 per cent to 301,437. Coastal lifestyle magazine, Coast, saw a healthy increase, up 33.1 per cent to 41,116, and the publisher’s biggest title, women’s monthly Cosmopolitan, boosted circulation 4.4 per cent to 470,735.
  • Bauer Consumer Media, formerly Emap before Bauer bought the consumer arm of the now defunct publisher, was down 10.8 per cent to 3,258,289, with only two of the 23 titles showing an increase in circulation. Gold World rose 6.1 per cent to 35,014 and women’s weekly Grazia saw an increase of 3.2 per cent to 227,102. Worst hit for the publisher was More!, down 37.6 per cent to 162,554 after the title swapped from fortnightly to weekly in July 2007. Gardening Answers dropped 23.3 per cent to 28,018. Music Weekly Kerrang! dropped 27.9 per cent year on year to 60,290, a u-turn in sales which were up 4.3 per cent this time last year.
  • The biggest overall percentage drop in circulation from a mainstream consumer publishers came from Dennis, which dropped 12.7 per cent year on year to 444,094 depsite three of its six titles seeing an increase in circulation. Octane saw a double digit increase, up 11.5 per cent to 33,039, news digest The Week continued to rise, up 4.5 per cent to 150,099 and Men’s Fitness remained relatively steady with a small increase of 0.4 per cent rise to 65,626. Worst hit was men’s monthly Maxim, down 59.6 per cent to 43,542. The publishers said the more upmarket redesign last year was a ‘change in the core brand value to reduce the levels of glamour content’and claims it have improved the environment for advertisers and have attracted new partners.
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