BBC exec: 'Free online content has not hit mag sales'

The editorial director of BBC Good Food has said putting all of the magazine’s content online for free has had no negative impact on sales.

Gillian Carter told the Fipp World Magazine Congress in London this morning that, which launched two-and-a-half years ago and claims 1.2 million monthly unique users, had acted as a “taster” for print subscriptions.

She said that when the site launched there were questions about why a monthly magazine charging £3.20 in print should give away its content for free online.

“We’re offering the same content so you could ask why is anybody still bothering to buy the title,” she said.

“I don’t really think the web has impacted on magazine sales. People use magazines in a different way to how they use the web.”

She added: “Magazines are still fantastically portable. You can throw them around, they’re robust, they have longevity.

“There’s a lot of keepability there. I think people will still buy into that tactile product.”

Carter said BBC Good Food had sold more than 7,000 print subscriptions from its website and readers were using the site as a sampler before committing to the print title.

“You can’t ask for a better marketing tool than a different arm of your own brand. It’s been fantastically successful,” she said.

According to ABC, BBC Good Food was the 22nd biggest actively purchased magazine in the UK in the second half of 2008.

Its average monthly circulation was 337,179, down 2.9 per cent year on year. Carter said this slight decline was because the economic downturn had prompted readers to think again about everything they bought.

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