The iconic British weekly music publication, which launched in 1952, has been axed as part of the brand’s digital-first strategy. The last edition will hit the stands on 9 March.
NME, printed by Wyndeham since the collapse of Polestar in 2016, moved from being a paid-for title with a 15,000 readership in 2015, to a fresh-faced, free, ad-backed title with a circualtion of 300,000, in an effort to revive sales.
But according to publisher Time Inc UK’s group managing director, Music, Paul Cheal, rising costs offset gains in the popularity of its print title.
“NME is one of the most iconic brands in British media and our move to free print has helped to propel the brand to its biggest ever audience on NME.com. The print re-invention has helped us to attract a range of cover stars that the previous paid-for magazine could only have dreamed of.
“At the same time, we have also faced increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market. Unfortunately, we have now reached a point where the free weekly magazine is no longer financially viable. It is in the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand.”
The announcement comes just a week after Time Inc UK was sold to private equity group Epiris in a circa-£130m deal.
NME will continue to focus on its digital presence – nme.com attracts more than 3m unique UK users and 13m unique global users per month, while its social media platforms enjoy a following of more than 200m.
As part of the digital expansion the brand will launch a new weekly in-depth feature, The Big Read, on nme.com, replacing the print version’s weekly cover star interview. Meanwhile two new music channels NME 1 and NME 2 are set to launch under the brand NME Audio.
Special issues, such as the paid for series NME Gold, will continue to be published in print and the publisher said that NME “would explore other opportunities” in print, although those remain unclear.
Digital director of NME, Keith Walker, says: “NME has been at the digital forefront for more than two decades. Our global digital audience has almost doubled over the past two years.
“With these new developments, we are giving consumers even more of what they want from us. By making the digital platforms our core focus we can accelerate the amazing growth we’ve seen and reach more people than ever before on the devices they’re most naturally using.”