Trading currencies: readership and circ face off as latest mag stats released

It’s that time again, a time when publishers weep, gloat or possibly just say ‘meh’ and get on with it as the ABC circulation and Nielsen’s Magazine Comparatives Q2 2010 – Q2 2011 readership results are released. And while the market appears to have stabilised after a fairly rough period, there are some interesting, some might say counter-intuitive trends on display in the yearly comparisons, with some significant disparities between circulation and readership for some titles and publishers. If you’re looking for standouts in the circulation department then Fairfax Magazines’ Life and Leisure took the cake, with a 16 percent increase from the same time last year.

At ACP, which, slightly surprisingly, was the only magazine publisher to send a press release, Your Home and Garden and Australian Woman’s Weekly were both up 1.3 percent, Fashion Quarterly and Cleo were up four percent (FQ is up 17.1 percent over the past two years), and Taste was up slightly. But some of its major titles were a different story, with Next down 15 percent, North & South down 11 percent and Metro down 10 percent. Woman’s Day consolidated its position as the highest selling weekly magazine with a circulation of 106,000 but this was down three percent from last year.

NZ Magazines recorded a couple of wins, with The Listener (64,000) and NZ Women’s Weekly (82,000) both up two percent. But one notable trend is New Idea and That’s Life, the two titles that moved into its stable from Pacific Magazines last year, are down ten percent and six percent respectively.

Tangible’s NZ Fishing World and NZ Rugby World both increased circ by eight percent and seven percent respectively and takes the gong for the single biggest gain of 26 percent for it customer published title Habitat, now at over 200,000 audited circulation.

Elsewhere, the previous big rises of Healthy Food Guide and Mindfood have slowed down as those two titles mature.

In many cases, however, the readership was a totally different kettle of fish, which some put down to the fact that readership generally follows circulation figures, so if circ goes up or down, readership figures take a bit longer to respond. Readership is certainly a good way to show how big your audience is, while circulation is a good measure to see which publishers are creating content consumers will actually pay for. But which metric is more valuable/accurate? And if circulation is, by and large, going down, and readership is, by and large, holding up or increasing, does that simply mean more people are passing on their mags or reading them in fish n chip shops?

These figures are something of a helicopter view of the industry, of course, but at ACP, the country’s biggest publisher, some mags that had substantial circ losses clocked readership increases with North and South up four percent and Metro up seven percent. KiaOra, which doesn’t have circ figures, was up 21 percent, warranting a ‘significant’ in Nielsen’s right hand panel.

Perhaps not surprisingly, ACP has been focusing on readership lately and, as its press release said: “ACP’s magazine portfolio connects with more New Zealanders than ever before (81.1 percent). ACP Media reaches more than three million New Zealanders a year, an increase of 3.3 percent or 97,000 readers … Four of the top six increases in audiences across the magazine market were held by ACP brands and three in four of the fastest growing magazines belong to ACP. ACP’s magazines combined have increased net readership by females 25-59 years socio-economic levels 1-3 by +10.8 percent year on year while males 25-54 years were up +5.5 percent.”

In the weekly readership stakes, NZ Woman’s Weekly stood firm with just over 800,000 readers to take top spot, followed by Woman’s Day, which declined slightly from 801,000 last year to 781,000. NZ Magazines’ The Listener backed up its circ increase with an increase of almost 30,000 readers, while ACP’s Lucky Break, which was down five percent in circulation, was up 23 percent in readership. NZ Rugby World and NZ Fishing World were the opposite, with readership decreases despite their circulation increases.

ACP’s monthly The Australian Women’s Weekly clocked a readership of 664,000, up five percent year on year and its fifth consecutive gain. And its newest magazine, Good Health, got off to a good debut, with its first 12-month readership at 108,000 and a circulation of 15,352.

The food category continues to be one of the fastest growing in the publishing sector, and Healthy Food Guide continued along a now well-trodden readership path, moving from 325,000 to 358,000 readers. Foodtown is up from 296,000 to 342,000, Taste now has 218,000 readers, up 20 percent or 36,000 and Recipes+ secured 103,000 readers, up 16 percent.

Decreases deemed significant by the Nielsen figures were recorded by Skywatch, NZ Fishing World, Reader’s Digest, NZ Girlfriend, Cosmopolitan and ComputerWorld.

  • We’re off for a beer, so you’ll just have to wait until Monday for the newspaper figures.


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