Magazine ABCs show net circulation increase in first half of 2014

By Tom Johnson, Thursday 21 August 2014

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Average net magazine circulation in the UK increased by 1.2% to 33.4m in the first six months of 2014, despite a mixed performance by some of publishing's biggest brands.

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FourFourTwo: World Cup boost

The main growth sectors were Leisure Interest (up 70.6%), Sports titles (up 37.7%) and Children’s magazines (up 11.6%) according to the latest report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), while the highest circulating titles continued to be dominated by customer magazines.

These included Pets at Home customer title My VIP, which had an average net circulation of 674,075 between January and June this year (up 35.1% on its first audited circulation of 498,970 in H2 2013). The magazine was responsible for the surge in Leisure Interest circulation.

The top five titles by average circulation were the supermarket customer titles Asda Magazine (2m), Tesco Magazine (1.9m), Morrisons Magazine (1.4m), followed by TV Listings mags TV Choice (1.3m) and What's on TV (1m).

The rest of the top 10 included customer titles Waitrose Kitchen (680,925), My VIP (674,075) and Shortlist (535,505), as well as Radio Times (762,814) and Women's Weekly title Take A Break (657,282).

A 6% increase in the circulation of Morrisons Magazine and the inclusion of Waitrose Kitchen for the first time in the Jan-June ABC figures helped counteract falls across the majority of paid titles in the Women's monthly category leading to a total average net circulation increase of 2.6% to 9.3m.

The travails of some newsstand titles in the sector are reflected in Hearst's recent decision to can the print version of Company, which will become a digital only product. The monthly's print circulation had been in decline for some time, it posted an ABC of 88,059 in its most recent audit last year. Five years ago Company was a Top 100 titles with a circulation of 240,000.

The October issue, on sale on September 5, will be the last in print.

The highest circulating sports title was FourFourTwo, which was boosted by the World Cup with a total of 76,524, up 4.7% from the last ABC report. Red Bull also launched its own sport magazine in the UK, The Red Bulletin, which had the second highest circulation in the sector of 74,508, up 6.9%.

The magazine has been distributed freely around London since January, following a partnership with Metro and has a worldwide circulation of 2.2m. In the children’s magazine category, Fun to Learn – Peppa Pig had the largest circulation of 98,057 with a growth of 5.5%.

Music magazines fell across the board by 15.3% with each title in a double-digit decline ranging from 10.9% to 28.5%. This is the third year in a row that the category has shown a loss in circulation.

The biggest decline was NME, which went down by 28.5% to a total of 14,312.

Women’s magazines made a joint contribution to the average net circulation of 19.9m. Women’s weekly titles totaled 5m, Lifestyle/Fashion 5.6m and Women's monthlies 9.3m.

Despite the big circulation figures, Women’s weeklies and Lifestyle/Fashion magazines are in decline, falling 7.6% and 2.7% respectively, with the latter figure buoyed by the addition of ASOS.com (476,569), John Lewis Edition (481,220) and Stylist (436,120).

Meanwhile, high profile titles Elle (UK) (150,427), Look (166,482) and Marie Claire (200,047) all posted double digit percentage falls in circulation, while Grazia (151,328) was also down just shy of 10% year-on-year.

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