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Consumer magazine ABCs for the first half of 2016: Nine things you need to know

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  • The News & Current Affairs: Domestic sector retained its status as one of those most immune from changes to reading habits, posting a combined 4.5% rise on the previous period to 568,859. The biggest seller remains Private Eye having slightly increased its circulation by 0.1% on the last period to 230,099, while the biggest riser was The Spectator, posting a 7.0% rise on the last period and a 37.9% rise year on year to 76,750 for its UK edition. All publishers in the sector will be delighted that no titles suffered circulation decreases.


  • This month’s release was less rosy for the Women’s Weeklies sector, however. The highest circulating title remains Take a Break despite a 4.6% fall on the last period to 562,412, while OK! Magazine’s performance was anything but, posting the biggest fall in the sector to 176,386; a drop of 36.0% on the last period and 11.8% year on year. Elsewhere New! fell 12.2% on the last period to 216,877 and Heat fell 11.8% on the last period to 144,074. Not one of the 20 titles in the sector posted gains, and overall the sector fell by 8.4% year on year to 3,843,367 copies.
  • That’s not to say that women are turning away from magazines across the board. While falling overall, the Women’s Lifestyle/Fashion sector returned far more mixed results. The freely distributed John Lewis Edition remains the highest circulating title, albeit after suffering a 16.8% fall on the last period to 476,180. Good Housekeeping is the biggest seller after an excellent year, up 8.6% on the last period and 10.1% year on year to 431,008. There were also increases of 4.0% and 4.3% respectively for Red and Elle, although the publisher of Look will wish it hadn’t, as Time Inc. UK’s title posted a 20.8% decrease on the last period to 91,902; a 30.3% drop year on year.
  • Onto the TV Listings, and sadly falls for all titles left the sector contracting its output by 6.5% to 3,445,883 copies. The nation’s favourite remains TV Choice despite selling 2.9% less copies than six months ago at 1,232,038, while the Radio Times continues its downward trajectory, having fallen 8.8% on the last period and 6.2% year on year to 668,526. Hearst will not be pleased following the news that All About Soap recorded the heaviest fall, down 14.1% on the last period and 31.2% year on year to a very worrying 29,788.
  • Men’s Lifestyle benefitted from a 22.2% increase across the sector year on year, though it is the entrance of the free title COACH and the performance of other freely circulating titles to which this rise can be attributed. Esquire is the highest riser, up 10.3% on the last period to 64,712, though nearly 48% of its circulation was distributed freely in this audit period. The highest selling title in the sector is also the biggest faller, as Men’s Health posted a 7.5% fall on the last audit to 180,082.
  • The Cookery & Kitchen sector recorded circulation decreases across all of its paid-for magazines. The highest-selling is BBC Good Food, although a 14.4% fall on the last period and a 9.0% fall year on year leaves its circulation at 200,225. Sainsbury’s Magazine had an even worse time of it, down 16.5% on the last period to 189,578. Overall, the sector contracted by 3.5% year on year, but still remains the biggest consumer sector with a total distribution of 5,332,355 copies.
  • Children’s reading habits continue to diverge from those of their parents, which should surely be a source of great optimism for print media in the long-term. In particular, the Children’s Magazines: Primary – Boys sector positively boomed in the first half of the year, led by strong performance in LEGO magazines. The sectors highest selling title is Egmont’s Disney Star Wars Lego whose circulation grew by 37.8% to 80,012, while Immediate Media’s LEGO Ninjago rose 21.3% on the last period to 77,879, and new entrant Lego Nexo Knights posted its first ABC audit of 51,005.
  • From a media owner perspective, all three of the highest circulating consumer publishers recorded overall falls, though Hearst retains the top spot having experienced a relatively trivial decrease of 0.1% on the last period and 0.3% year on year to 4,525,352 magazines. Time Inc. UK is second but posted a greater decrease of 1.2% for the period and 1.1% year on year to 4,079,428. Of the top three it was H Bauer Publishing that endured the steepest decline, now circulating just 2,436,407 copies after a 5.0% drop, both on the last period and year on year.
  • While there may be little cause for celebration at the country’s biggest consumer media owners, Immediate Media can celebrate an excellent audit. The publisher increased overall distribution by 5.2% on the last period and 5.0% year on year. This was led by gains across its children’s titles and also by BBC Gardener’s World, whose 15.0% increase on the last period will delight Immediate Media’s owners.

*where not indicated all figures are for combined print and digital audits.