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Digital props up magazine circulations

News, 17 August 2015

LONDON: UK magazine circulations declined on average by 5.3% in the first half of 2015, but this was partly offset by growth in digital circulations which increased to 409,414 over the period, the latest industry data has shown.

Figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) revealed that TV listings remained the UK's favourite type of magazine over the period, but news and current affairs magazines performed notably well.

With a circulation of 1.27m, H Bauer Publishing's TV Choice was the biggest-selling magazine in the UK from January to the end of June, ahead of Time Inc's What's on TV (1.01m) and the BBC's Radio Times (712,927), Campaign reported.

Meanwhile, Hearst's Good Housekeeping remained top of the women's monthly magazines with a print circulation of 400,647, followed by Condé Nast's Glamour (366,068).

However, one of the highlights of the study was the success some publications achieved with their digital offerings.

The Economist, in particular, stood out after increasing its worldwide digital circulation by 22% over the last six months.

Three of its digital titles took the top three spots in the report in terms of the proportion they contributed to gross circulation. The Economist's UK edition accounted for about a third (31.1%), followed by its Asia Pacific edition (25.7%) and Continental Europe edition (14.0%).

Indeed, The Economist's UK digital edition grew 42% over the past six months and 225.8% year-on-year to 70,953 while its Asia-Pacific edition grew 77% year-on-year to 39,399. The Continental Europe edition drew in 34,101 digital readers, a 52% increase since the same period last year.

"Our latest circulation numbers are in line with what we have seen over the last few years, a steady migration to digital," said Michael Brunt, CMO at The Economist.

"Whilst the majority of our new customers still choose a subscription that provides both print and digital formats, the number choosing digital-only circulation has grown tremendously."

Another strong current affairs performer was the digital version of The Week, the news digest owned by Dennis Publishing, which registered 17% year-on-year growth to 30,750.

That made it the second most popular digital title in the UK after The Economist and ahead of third-placed BBC Top Gear Magazine, which grew 7.4% year-on-year.

However, other digital titles fared less well with Vanity Fair falling -15.6% over the year to 6,817, OK! Magazine was down -32.5% year-on-year to 4,998 and Cosmopolitan fell -25.1% to 4,905.

In total, 37 of the 90 digital editions audited by the ABC posted falls in their circulations since the same period last year and the ABC attributed this development to tougher competition and slowing tablet sales.

Data sourced from Campaign, ABC; additional content by Warc staff