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Gloss wears off Aussie print industry

News, 16 February 2016

SYDNEY: Australia's print industry continues to suffer as new figures confirm declining circulation numbers, with certain categories especially hard hit.

Data revealed by Australia's Audit Bureau of Circulation for the second half of 2015, reported in B&T Magazine, show that print titles across both newspapers and magazines are facing a difficult time, with women's magazines and celebrity gossip titles among those worst affected.

Bauer Media's Cosmopolitan and Dolly magazines, targeted at young women, both suffered massive circulation drops of 21.7% and 30.8% respectively.

A proliferation of free online content aimed at this demographic has crowded the landscape significantly, and print mainstays are struggling to keep up. Young women are now just as likely to get fashion and beauty advice from a YouTube blogger for free.

New competition has also emerged from free online magazines helmed by young female celebrities such as Rookie editor Tavi Gevinson and Lenny founder Lena Dunham, who present a proudly feminist and alternative take on media for young women.

Fairfax's flagship news titles also saw a decline, particularly in weekday editions, though the company's investment in digital platforms appears to be balancing out losses in print readership. The weekly edition of the Sydney Morning Herald – the nation's most read newspaper across all platforms – fell 9.1% to a print circulation of just 104,155. The weekly edition of Australian Financial Review fell more than 10%.

The circulation figures are not a surprise to the industry. For many Australians, a newspaper or magazine subscription is a thing of the past as they prefer to get their news online.

However there are bright spots for niche, high-end publications. Cooking magazine Taste and fashion mainstay Vogue Australia both grew circulation last year.

While print is declining, there has also been a corresponding uptick in readers via digital channels, and publications are investing more in a multi-platform brand approach.

Warc's latest International Ad Forecast estimates the value of the Australian print ad market at A$2.3bn in 2015, down some 15% from the previous year.

Data sourced from B&T; additional content by Warc staff