More magazines: Publishers upbeat about latest readership figures

The latest magazine readership insights released today by Nielsen (Q4 2019 – Q3 2020) reveal a great story of success for magazines in 2020. This, despite the challenges faced by the industry with shifting media ownership, a global pandemic, lockdowns and economic downturn.

While overall readership across measured magazine titles was down two percent year on year for this period – magazines being deemed non-essential possibly a significant factor in this – the results reveal that New Zealanders who buy magazines are now purchasing and sharing more of their favourite titles.

Loyal magazine readers are increasingly sharing their magazines with other members of their household, resulting in a 16 percent jump in secondary readership.

A deeper dive into the homes of Kiwis suggests that the number of primary readers – that’s subscribers and people who buy magazines for themselves – rose by six per cent across all the measured titles year on year.

Research conducted by the Magazine Publishers Association (MPA) suggests that magazine readers feel their favourite titles help them relax in tough times: they trust the information they read in magazines, and find them a welcome diversion from their increasingly online work world. Overall, a positive outcome for magazine circulation.

This reader sentiment has been reinforced by a busy retail period in the second half of 2020. And further supported by the reintroduction of ex-Bauer titles and a handful of new masterheads such as those from School Road Publishing, Here, North & South and VIVA to name a few.

“Publishers are telling us that they’re seeing mid-year spikes in retail and subscriber sales similar to their usual Christmas sales – and these primary readership numbers back up those reports,  says MPA executive director Sally Duggan. 

Despite the resurgence in magazine interest in the second half of the year, the MPS believes that the Covid-19 imposed restrictions on travel and other outings did its damage on overall readership numbers early on in the year.

Duggan says that this meant Kiwis were reading fewer magazines outside the home in places like cafes, hotels and doctor’s surgeries. Significantly, this has resulted in an 18 percent fall in tertiary readership among measured titles year on year.

Ovato New Zealand managing director Paul Gardiner agrees with this saying that the increase in the primary reader has come about post the national lockdown where magazines have seen a huge spike in magazine purchasing pre- and post-lockdown “Countdown Scan Data shows 16.5 percent growth in Retail Sales Value between Q3 2020 & Q3 2019,” he says.

He also notes the significant uptick in subscriptions, especially within the lifestyle space. iSubscribe NZ insight during the first lockdown show lifestyle and food title subscriptions up 105 percent and 48 percent respectivly.

According to the MPA, publishers are generally upbeat when it comes to their own internal readership figures.

“Publishers I talk to are reporting record retail and subs results, which tallies with this primary readership increase,” Duggan tells StopPress.  

Taking a closer look at the the latest Nielsen figures, current affairs titles are among the big winners in primary readership: NZ Geographic up 34 percent, and Time magazine  up 62 percent. Home titles also fared well: with NZ Gardener recording an 8 per cent increase in primary readers; NZ House & Garden up 7.4 per cent; and NZ Lifestyle Block up 36 per cent.

Stay tuned for more reaction from magazine publishers.

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