Magazine circ: holds steady. Magazine readership: spikes upwards. John Baker: crows quietly—UPDATED

It’s time to get back to our ABCs. And our Nielsens.

For only the second time, the new magazine circulation methology has spewed its quarterly data, coinciding with the Nielsen Magazine Comparatives Q2 2011 – Q1 2012 readership results.

And the news: it’s all up for most and a bit down for others. But overall, magazines are finding their feet again. John Baker, the newly minted chairman of the Magazine Publishers’ Association is full of confidence:

“Magazines are growing and resonating even more deeply with consumers,” he says. “When other media talk about ‘engagement’ our readers demonstrate commitment to our brands and content in a way that differentiates us from other media as well as the broad print category.

“And they’re richer.”

Quite right. The Nielsen data reveals that magazine readers are more likely to come from homes with $120,000 income.

So what about the results?

From a readership perspective, there’s dramatic improvement to report, with 30 magazines experiencing readership increases deemed “significant” by Nielsen. Circulation broadly speaking proved steady.

TV Guide is the biggest exception. It tops the list with a circulation of 137,165. But it’s losing readership, down 51,000 readers to 607,000 from 658,000 a year ago.

Second place for weeklies goes to consistently strong performer Woman’s Day with an average net circulation of 107,403 copies. Woman’s Day also grew its readership by an impressive 65,000, or 8.4 percent to 839,000 readers. And in its press release, ACP proudly declared the title sells more than New Zealand Woman’s Weekly and New Idea put together at the supermarket tills.

Overall, combined average net paid sales for New Idea (41,614) and New Zealand Woman’s Weekly (70,994) is 112,608, compared to 105,843 for Woman’s Day. New Zealand Woman’s Weekly and New Idea, belonging to the New Zealand Magazines stable, also experienced marginal circulation increases.

ACP’s Australian Woman’s Weekly reached a fifteen-year readership high with 746,000 readers, up 13.4 percent, or 88,000 readers, and its circulation increased to 81,378 copies.

ACP put it this way: “Gains across these two titles alone are equivalent to filling Eden Park stadium with new readers three times over.”

Not even the Highlanders could do that.

And while we’re on the beautiful game, rugby magazines fared well in the readership stakes, with both Rugby News and Tangible Media’s NZ Rugby World upping their readership by an impressive 41 percent and 32 percent respectively. NZ Rugby World also retained a steady circulation. Rugby News isn’t audited.

New Zealand Magazine’s consistently popular title, New Zealand Listener, returned stable results with little movement in both circ and readership, unlike New Zealand Geographic. The Kowhai Publishing magazine continues its upward trajectory in the readership department, with average issue readership of 335,000 — an increase of 37 percent year on year.

Elsewhere, Mindfood remained stable in both readership and circ departments, and perennial top seller Healthy Food Guide, saw a significant jump in readership, up 62,000 readers to 408,000, also earning the “significant” Nielsen treatment.

ACP’s revamped Next magazine has reeled in additional readers, up 13,000 on the same period last year to 370,000. Circulation was pretty much dead even.

Also in ACP land, Top Gear made both readership and circulation gains compared to the previous release, up 14 percent and five percent respectively.

In the gardening/lifestyle category, numbers remained pretty stable, apart from ACP’s Home New Zealand, which capitulated horribly. In spite of upping its quarter-on-quarter circulation from 11,387 to 11,728, it took a massive blow in readership, dropping from 85,000 readers to 51,000 on the same period last year. Perhaps it’s a timing thing.

Fairfax titles NZ Life & Leisure, NZ House & Garden and New Zealand Gardener magazine all remained stable on the circulation front, but NZ Life & Leisure delivered the most impressive readership results, reaching 134,000, up from 120,000 in the same period last year.

Food magazines offered a mixed bag of results. Taste and Cuisine both had circ drops and Taste lost 15,000 readers, Cuisine added 30,000 readers to reach 428,000. Tangible Media’s Dish magazine experienced a slight increase in both circ and readership. Also of note is Foodtown’s re-branded magazine Food, which upped its readership to an impressive 391,000 readers, up from 332,000 readers over the same period last year.

Other strong Tangible Media performers include New Zealand Weddings, which earned Nielsen’s “significant” stamp, with readership rising from 84,000 to 106,000. Likewise Habitat readership jumped from 131,000 to 164,000 readers, and showed a small net circulation increase from the previous quarter.

And hold the freakin’ presses! Average net paid sales for your beloved New Zealand Marketing have almost doubled since June last year, now sitting at 1152, up from 678.

Rich, smart

And what else can we learn?

All up, the Nielsen readership survey showed that 96 percent of Kiwis have read a magazine in the last 12 months and two thirds of the population are categorised as either heavy or moderate magazine readers.

And it seems the wealthier among us are particular fans, with household incomes of $120,000+ are 32 percent more likely to be heavy magazine readers compared to average New Zealander.

The survey also revealed that 1,159,000 New Zealanders aged 15 and over have read a magazine in the last 24 hours.

Next up: newspapers.


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