Consumer Magazine ABCs for the second half of 2016: eight things you need to know

Posted by Charles Lloyd on February 16, 2017

  • The News & Current Affairs: Domestic sector continues to roll on unscathed by falling circulations elsewhere, increasing overall circulation by 4.9% in the last six months of 2016. Political tumult at home and abroad can’t have hurt the sector, although ‘print is dead’ has never applied here and the sector consistently defies expectations. Leading the charge was Private Eye, which achieved the remarkable feat of posting its highest ever circulation, up 8.7% on the last period and 8.9% year on year to 250,204. The Spectator boasted the most substantial year on year increase, up 15.2% to 82,585, while the New Statesman will also be delighted having boosted its total circulation by 5.3% over the same period to 34,025. Only The Oldie suffered a fall, down 1.7% on last year to 45,612.
  • Men’s Lifestyle, unfortunately, has far less to celebrate, with just one title (Esquire) recording a year on year increase. Overall the sector contracted by 3.2% on the previous period and 3.6% year on year to 1.28m copies. Free title Shortlist tops the sector at 504,740 having suffered a slight dip of 0.2% both on H1 2016 and H2 2015. Men’s Health remains the biggest seller and recorded a 1.1% increase to 182,026, but fell year on year by 6.5% and only 68.2% of this circulation was actively purchased. Rival publication Men’s Fitness appears to be teetering on the brink having circulated just 25,807 copies, down 16.7% year on year. Esquire enjoyed a 10.9% year on year increase to 65,091, but it’s worth noting that only 50.6% of these were actively purchased.
  • The outlook for Women’s Weeklies is even more concerning, overall the sector fell by 11.6% to 3.76m and not one title recorded a year on year increase. Take a Break remains the nation’s favourite but sold 3.5% less copies than H1 2016 and 7.9% less year on year at 542,786. The highest faller was OK! Magazine, down 31.4% year on year to 189,270, though due to the title’s pattern of fluctuating circulations caused by promotions this also reflects a 7.3% increase on the last period. Other significant fallers in the sector include Closer (down 16.2% year on year to 223,342), New! (down 16.6% year on year to 206,071) and Heat (down 16.5% year on year to 136,470).
  • Women’s Lifestyle/Fashion provided more of a mixed bag but fell overall 5.6% year on year to £5.08m. Free magazine John Lewis tops the sector again at 457,490 copies distributed, although a 20.1% fall year on year means it circulated little more than Good Housekeeping, which had a fantastic period. Good Housekeeping circulated 454,697 titles, up 2.2% on H1 2016 and 11% year on year, while Woman & Home will also be pleased having increased circulation on the last period by 2% to 321,776. The biggest faller in the sector was Glamour, shedding more than a quarter of its circulation in a year and down by 13.2% on H1 2016 to 260,422. HELLO! also performed poorly, down 10.8% on the last period and 15.5% year on year to 225,986, though still outsold main rival OK! Magazine by more than 35,000 copies.
  • The Film & Video Reviews market has long been a one-sided, two-horse race, but in recent years both players have been losing. Empire continues to outsell Total Film by a long chalk at 123,004, although this figure reflects a fall of 10% on the previous quarter and 15.3% year on year. Total Film, meanwhile, fell 19.5% year on year to 45,410.
  • Onto the Rock Music market, where the eight audited titles fell by 3.6% year on year to 559,083. The NME’s move to a cover price-free existence continues to see it streaks ahead of its competitors, up 0.1% on H1 2016 and 0.6% year on year to 308,938. No other title in the sector managed to circulate anywhere near that, and all (with the exception of Rock Sound, up 1% year on year to 14,057) suffered circulation falls. Mojo remains the highest-circulated paid for Rock title, and its 4.2% year on year fall to 67,518 was a better performance than most. Classic Rock (9.2% to 46,517), Uncut (9.7% to 43,235) and Q (9.2% to 40,003) all fell by similar rates, while Bauer’s weekly title Kerrang! was hit the hardest, down 23.7% to just 18,462.
  • The decline of print and the increasing irrelevance of TV listings brought about by catch-up TV led to a 6% fall year on year for the market, though a total circulation of 3.41m shows that this remains one of the more popular magazine categories. Two titles in the market managed increases on H1 2016; Radio Times by 2.5% to 684,922 and TV Times by 1.8% to 200,667 although in yesteryear one would expect the Christmas period to boost circulations across the board and not for only two titles. TV Choice remains number one at 1,219,097 copies sold, and the title’s year on year fall of 3.9% constitutes the best performance in the sector. Soaplife suffered the greatest year on year fall, down 21.1% to 38,867.
  • At 4.41m copies, Hearst Magazines UK boasts the highest circulation in the consumer magazine market, assisted by year on year rises across its biggest selling titles such as Good Housekeeping (11% to 454,697), Prima (2% to 258,607) and Country Living (12.5% to 188,915), although overall circulation fell 3.9% over the same period. The rate of decline was better than main rivals Time Inc. UK, whose circulation fell by 7.8% year on year to 4.23m, brought about by decreases to all but three of its 39 audited titles. Immediate Media managed a year on year increase of 1.5% to 2.64m thanks to its successful portfolio of children’s magazines, but the other major players all suffered falls (Bauer Consumer Media down 6.7% to 1.9m, Conde Nast down 8.9% 1.07m, Dennis Publishing down 4.1% to 665,143, and Future Publishing down 8.8% to 356,043).

By Charlie Lloyd, Senior Content Researcher

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