Good things come in threes: Mag sector continues to confound sceptics with more readership gains

  • Media
  • October 26, 2012
  • Ben Fahy
Good things come in threes: Mag sector continues to confound sceptics with more readership gains

The quarterly number fest that is the Nielsen CMI Readership and Audit Bureau of Circulation data has been released, and while only a few magazine titles bucked the general downward trend in paid circulation, a majority of titles experienced readership increases, making it the third consecutive survey showing an improvement in total readership. 

Overall, the Magazine Publishers Association says the news continues to be good for advertisers. According to its release, New Zealanders bought more than 17 million magazines worth more than $100 million from supermarkets alone in the past year, which is an average of 7.6 per person (AP10+); of the 76 magazines surveyed by Nielsen, 62 percent experienced readership increases against the year prior; general interest titles took the top spot by category, narrowly beating out previous number one Home/Garden/Entertaining; women’s lifestyle titles experienced the largest increase, up 19 percent YOY; and sports magazines increased 11 percent YOY. 

The MPA is happy with the solid numbers, but commercial director Katrina Horton is also aiming to get across to media agencies that it's not just about volume. The magazine sector is keen to draw attention to engagement measures, like the fact that readers spend an average of 42 minutes reading within an issue period, increasing to 51 minutes for general interest titles and 71 minutes for primary readers. 

Added to that, ink and paper hangs around and enhances advertising frequency, with average magazine pick up at 3.4 times. 

As for the companies and their brands, ACP's flagship title Woman's Day kept up the momentum, charting a readership increase of seven percent for 841,000 readers (the largest jump by the major weeklies) and a slight decrease in average net paid (ANP) sales from mid-2011, going from 105,088 to 104,147. That's down from its recent peak of 149,617 ANP in the heady days of 2006. 

"A key factor in its success lies in winning the battle for supermarket sales, where Woman’s Day sells more than twice as many copies as its two nearest competitors combined," says ACP's release. "This title alone reaches more New Zealand women than all daily metropolitan newspapers combined." 

Its main competition, New Zealand Magazine's The New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, also grew its audience by 25,000, connecting with 808,000 people. ANP figures are down, however, going from 73,547 in mid-2011 to 65,858.

"A significant proportion of this growth was experienced in the Auckland market, where its readership increased by 18 percent on last year," the NZ Magazines release says. "The Weekly continues to achieve growth to its website, with its unique audience increasing by ten percent in September this year."

Elsewhere in ACP land, The Australian Women’s Weekly is both the number-one read and sold monthly newsstand magazine and has added 105,000 new readers to reach 764,000. Its paid sales have remained fairly stable over the past year and sit at 77,826. 

Your Home & Garden secured the biggest readership increase (up 43,000) in a competitive and growing segment to reach a record high of 333,000. Circulation followed suit and was up four percent compared to the December 2011 report. HOME New Zealand maintained readership and also secured circulation growth of five percent, up to 10,133 ANP. 

ACP's premium and current affairs segment also fared well, with North & South, Metro and KiaOra posting gains. North & South’s circulation is up nine percent compared to the December 2011 release and "it is one of the top-performing magazines in terms of supermarket growth, up an impressive 19 percent in dollar sales to September".

Metro posted both circulation and readership gains, with readership up 12 percent, more than three times the readership of NBR. Similarly, KiaOra magazine is up 10,000 year on year to 309,000. 

Taste, which was recently revamped, was the only monthly title with a significant decrease in readership, down to 193,000 from 213,000 last year, and it's also down around 6,000 paid copies from mid-2011 to 20,861. Despite a 14 percent readership increase to 154,000, Cleo's ANP is down to 10,765; and Simply You was down significantly in readership to 90,000 and also down in paid circulation to 29,185.   

Fashion Quarterly posted a 13 percent readership increase, the highest readership recorded for the title in more than 12 years, although ANP is down slightly on mid-2011; NZ Good Health took out the fastest-growing women’s magazine title with 42 percent year-on-year readership gain; and every one of ACP's trader brands grew readership and increased their combined male readership by 12 percent year on year. 

"Every week we challenge ourselves to craft more compelling content and to build on our extraordinary magazine brands," ACP chief executive Paul Dykzeul said in a release. "These results are testament to this focus, creativity and sheer tenacity. Our new ownership serves as a catalyst to apply new thinking right across the business and we’re determined to capitalise on our momentum and over-deliver to our readers, advertisers and owners." 

Adding to its news about the readership and circ data was the news that, starting today, ACP would be rebranding to Bauer, a process that is expected to be completed early in the New Year. 

"The decision to rebrand is a natural transition following Bauer Media Group’s acquisition of ACP Magazines last month," Dykzeul says  "... As part of the Bauer Media family, the company will extend its proud tradition of excellence, building on our strengths as we continue to innovate and develop across multiple platforms including digital editions, websites and licensed products. We have the best brands and the best people and I look forward to leading the New Zealand business into a new era of success." 

According to APN's release, more New Zealanders are engaging with its magazine titles, which now reach 1,491,000 New Zealanders, an increase of 7,000 on the same time last year.

"Our youth titles, Creme and Girlfriend continue to post positive results," the release said. "Creme has added 16,000 new readers on this time last year, taking its audience to 169,000, and connecting with 46 percent of all girls 10-14yrs. Girlfriend’s audience is up a significant 20 percent on last year, adding 33,000 readers, boosting its base to 200,000 [although ANP for both titles is down]."

Fairfax's release says its lifestyle magazines continue to perform strongly. NZ Life & Leisure kept growing, up to 147,000 readers for a readership increase of 28 percent year on year and increasing ANP to 31,797 from 29,137 in mid 2011. Cuisine grew its readership by six percent year on year; Sky Sport The Magazine was up 80,000 readers to 350,000; NZ Lifestyle Block was up 19 percent to 80,000 readers; and NZ House & Garden maintained its position as second biggest monthly title, and biggest title in its category, with 542,000 readers and an increase in ANP to 46,635. 

"We are delighted with the results. The passion I see in my staff is inspiring and they work very hard to ensure readers feel engaged with our magazines,” says Lynley Belton, Fairfax Magazines general manager.

TV Guide remains the largest circulating weekly title in New Zealand at 131,194 copies and 608,000 readers. Computing titles PC World with 121,000 readers and Computerworld up 12 percent to 46,000; and NZ Autocar is up nearly 29 percent since this time last year, with the recently launched enhanced digital version of the magazine is also proving to be a popular addition to the masthead. 

Tangible didn't send out a release, but the big news from its perspective was in the food category, with a significant drop in circulation for both Taste and Cuisine, which have respectively lost 6,000 and 5,000 paid sales per issue YOY, compared to an increase in paid sales for Dish of 2,000 copies per issue over the same period. For the first time, Dish now has a higher audited circulation than Taste

NZ Fishing World was up almost 30,000 to 159,000 readers and NZ Rugby World was up 70,000 to 235,000, but both fell in paid circ. 

As for the other titles, Rugby News had a big readership increase, which is slightly ironic given it has recently decided to move everything online; Hunting & Fishing was up almost 100,000 to 554,000, although there's some debate as to whether this is in fact a magazine at all; Mindfood and Healthy Food Guide clocked in with significant increases in the monthly section, up to 188,000 and 408,000 readers respectively (Mindfood also charted a small circulation increase to 30,000); and NZ Performance Car, Recipes+, NZ Fishing News, Motorcycle Trader, Farm Trader and Deals on Wheels were also on the positive side of the readership ledger in the monthlies.

Urbis was the only monthly to chart a significant decrease, down 16,000 to 70,000. 

  • It's beer time. Newspaper rundown to come on Monday. 

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