News titles prosper amid gloomy magazine ABCs

Richard Stuart-Turner
Friday, February 14, 2020

A raft of news, politics and specialist titles have bucked the general downward trend in the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) consumer magazine reports.

The women’s weeklies sector dropped by 12% in the period
The women’s weeklies sector dropped by 12% in the period

The data, which was released yesterday (13 February) and covered the final six months of 2019, suggested that a number of magazines benefitted from their coverage of events including the General Election and Brexit last year.

New Statesman increased by 6% to 37,828, The Economist jumped by 5% to 909,476 and New Scientist was up by 2% to 76,928 while The Week Junior leapt by 19% to 72,263.

Private Eye, meanwhile, tweeted about its own success in the period: “Never mind the reshuffle, the big news of the day is that Private Eye’s circulation has gone up 3% to a stonking 240,505 copies a fortnight!”

While the majority of market sectors were in decline, 17 managed to post year-on-year growth, including women’s interests: parenthood, which climbed by 543% albeit with only two titles measured in that sector including Ni4Kids, which achieved circulation of 61,613 in its first tracking period.

Other sectors showing notable growth included children’s magazines: pre-teen – general (up 18%), children’s magazines: primary – boys (up 15%), children’s magazines: primary – girls (up 12%), countryside & county: national (up 8%), motoring & motorcycling: motorcycling – classics (up 8%), leisure interests: general health & fitness (up 7%) and leisure interests: pets (up 7%).

The sectors posting the largest drops in circulation year-on-year were women’s interests: weddings & brides (down 21%), teenage magazines: teenage lifestyle (down 20%) and women’s interests: women's slimming (down 20%).

Women’s interests: women’s health & beauty fell by 14% while the women’s weeklies sector, which has been in long-term continuous decline, dropped by 12% in the period.

The biggest declines seen in the sector in this period were Pick Me Up (down 24%), OK! Magazine (down 22%), New! (down 19%), Chat (down 15%) and Bella (down 15%), while Closer, Woman and Woman’s Own all fell by 13%.

No single title grew in the sector; The Lady recorded flat circulation while the only fall of less than 5% was Woman’s Weekly, which was down 4%.

The biggest growing titles overall in the six-month period were Homes & Interiors Scotland (up 31% year-on-year), National Geographic Traveller (up 22%), Practical Sportsbikes (up 22%) and Pokemon (up 20%).

Other big drops in circulation were seen by WW Magazine (down 41%), Lego Friends (down 29%), Autocar (down 25%), What Car? (down 24%) and Stuff (down 24%).

While many of its titles suffered hefty circulation declines, Hearst UK chief executive James Wildman said the publisher “once again retained market leadership positions in each of our monthly competitive sectors”.

The company also pointed to period-on-period increases for titles including Good Housekeeping, Prima and Country Living.

Circulation of Elle fell by 23% to 125,141, which Hearst attributed to its recent strategic decision to enhance the title’s luxury positioning in the market.

“The magazine has an improved paper stock, increased pagination and is now aimed at an even more tightly-targeted luxury audience,” the company said.

Future, meanwhile, commented on the circulation increases for its titles Period Living and Real Homes, which both grew by 6% year-on-year.

Paul Newman, brand director of Future Home Interest, said: “There’s no doubt publishing consumer magazines in 2020 is a tough business, but it’s a testament to the talented teams on Period Living and Real Homes and the support departments at Future that we’ve achieved our second successive year of circulation growth.

“What is particularly pleasing about these results is the way we’ve generated organic growth in both newsstand sales and subscriptions on both titles, proving it’s still possible to reach new readers if you get the formula right.”

The most successful title in the six-month period was The National Trust Magazine, which recorded a circulation increase of 7% year-on-year to 2,657,768. Tesco Magazine, which posted flat circulation of 1,939,479, was second while Asda Magazine was third with circulation of 1,787,333, down 9%.

The UK’s biggest paid-for title, TV Choice, was fourth, with circulation down by 5% to 1,101,0777.


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