Avalanche of self-congratulatory magazine readership media releases strikes, minimal casualties reported

The magazine industry will be feeling somewhat chuffed and maybe a little relieved because, despite predictions to the contrary, in many cases magazine readership and circulation have grown over the last year, according to Nielsen’s year on year comparative results.

Across a range of publishers the positive stories came flooding in, the common theme being growth focused around titles with a specific and highly targeted editorial proposition. With engagement being the buzzword, there is little doubt, based on paid circulation numbers and readership, that magazines are staging something of a fight back, with the mass market weeklies being the notable exception.

Despite the positive spin from the MPA saying “top five consumer magazine weeklies are read by 54 percent of females aged 25-59 years” you can’t deny the slump continues for this category in terms of circulation and readership. The most intriguing fact is the readership gap between Woman’s Day and NZ Woman’s Weekly has now narrowed to only 6,000 readers. ACP will have the champagne on ice for the next release given the speed in which that gap has closed over the last 12 months, particularly given their circulation remains nearly 20,000 copies ahead of its old (did we say that) rival.

But beyond the weeklies there is a lot for the industry to crow about and it is in the monthly and bi-monthlies that you see a big lift in the performances of titles that have their pitch clear. The good news is spread around the big players as well as the smaller independents.

The circulation battle of the mass monthly women’s category is now all about ACP’s Next v McHugh media’s Mindfood. Mindfood’s 51 percent increase in circulation is a great result but is still over 20,000 copies behind its rival Next. The fact that there is still no Nielsen readership for Mindfood will be winding up the ACP team no end and agencies can expect to hear all about that over the next few weeks.

Interestingly, and probably contrary to what a lot of commentators would have thought, men’s lifestyle titles look like the really big winners. Along with ACP’s Top Gear NZ, Tangible Media’s NZ Rugby World and NZ Fishing World turned in circulation and readership growth, with strong performances from Parkside’s NZV8 and Fairfax’s The Cut. It is notable that most of the circulation growth for these titles came from an increase in paid circulation, something the industry will be well pleased with.

Healthy Food Media, following up its Supreme Magazine of the Year award at this year’s MPA Magazine Awards will be happy with their big increase in readership for Healthy Food Guide, although it does appear the circulation is now levelling out after massive growth since launch. Also in food, Dish posted its best ever readership result after coming off its highs last year along with a good increase in circulation. This is something its rival Cuisine can’t boast, although Cuisine remains a dominant force in this category.

Other good performances were turned in by NZ Gardener, NZ Life & Leisure, Fashion Quarterly and New Zealand Geographic.

And for your number crunching pleasure, here are the numbers. Magazine Comparatives Q3 2009 – Q2 2010

And as for the battle of the newspapers, it’s Friday afternoon. So here are some figures to look at (perhaps after you revel in the new weekend offerings from the two big players). Newspaper Comparatives Q3 2009 – Q2 2010.

Rest assured, we’ll get back to you about the winners and losers on Monday.

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