MG OMD’s top ‘must knows’ on July-Dec 2016 Magazine ABC’s

Emma Cranston & Publishing Team



Overall the market has taken a slight hit in the Jul-Dec 16 ABC’s, falling -7.5% YoY when looking at print and digital numbers combined.  Within this figure there are mixed results across each sector, with digital numbers aiding growth overall.

The News and Current Affairs sector shone, unsurprisingly benefitting from the extensive coverage of Brexit.  It was also further boosted following the controversial result of the US presidential election.  Hearst continue to benefit from exploring new distribution models across the portfolio, which has led all brands included within this to a total YoY increase.  Whilst this means bulks are growing across the portfolio to boost their circulations, it seems to have led to overall brand growth with UK digital numbers growing substantially throughout the year.  There have been celebrations, obstacles and closures throughout the period, however figures demonstrate that print brands are still engaging with their audiences, albeit through varying models across sectors.

Women’s Monthlies

Cosmopolitan has continued to reap the benefits of the new dynamic distribution method and saw an overall increase of +6.5% YoY across both print and digital numbers. Along with its strong digital offering, which includes their own Snapchat channel, their multidimensional portfolio has allowed the Cosmopolitan brand to expand their audience. Another positive story within this sector is Good Housekeeping, also owned by Hearst, who saw a +10.3% increase in their total print numbers YOY. It recorded its highest circulation for over nine years, retaining its position as Britain’s biggest-selling women’s lifestyle title.  However, this is also down to Hearst exploring additional new distribution methods, with their bulks increasing by over 1200%.

Print circulation within the luxury market has remained strong with both Vogue, who celebrated their centurion year, and Harpers Bazaar remaining static YoY.

TV Listings

The TV market had a rather turbulent period with steady PoP and YoY declines. Most titles increased their cover price in the 2nd half of last year, which could perhaps explain their fall in circulation. With a strong year for quality drama and increased focus on TV series and box sets, the effects can be seen in the soap focused titles which suffered the greatest with their results.  SoapLife took the largest hit overall, down -21.1% in their combined print and digital circulation. Furthermore, Hearst’s All About Soap printed its last issue in December 2016. Across the market money is being invested into their digital channels to accommodate the way people are accessing their TV listing.

News & Current Affairs

The political market, both in the UK and internationally, has seen big changes over the last 6 months. Post Brexit and the American election we have seen positive effects on the news & current affairs publishing sector with the majority of titles seeing increases YOY. The Spectator lead the way with a +19.6% overall increase. The New Statesman and The Economist also saw really positive growth, +3.3% YOY and +5% YOY respectively. International publications also followed suit, with titles such as Private Eye reporting +9.2% YOY increase this perhaps be attributed to the increased coverage of the American election and inauguration of president Trump. With such big changes within the political landscape consumers are turning to reliable sources to be fully informed and up to date with current affairs.

Music Sector

Despite the music sector displaying an overall decline of-11.5% YoY across this period, NME bucked this trend and continued to see their free distribution model increase overall circulations with an impressive +15.7% YoY. The title have worked hard to build their distribution network, recently adding 17 large-capacity music venues and one-off distribution points at high footfall locations for those heading to the UK’s biggest music festivals. This period’s figures also demonstrated that the Music sector are dedicating a lot more time and effort to their digital offering with Bauer’s Q Magazine displaying an increase of +19.1% YoY. Additionally to this Kerrang have released digital figures for the first time despite reporting a decline in print circulation (-26.9% YoY).

Motoring Section

Overall it was a positive story for the motoring market, with a third of the titles showing YoY increases. Despite EVO increasing their cover price by 10p within this period, they saw the greatest growth within the sector displaying an impressive +6.3% YoY increase. They continued to invest heavily into their editorial special features, specifically their annual supplements ‘Get on Track’ and ‘EVO Upgrades’. These pull outs allow them to grow their audience, as well as talk to their existing influential motoring enthusiasts. This period was also the first time TopGear magazine reported one annual ABC figure bringing the title in line with the rest of the motoring press.  The sector reaped the rewards of investing heavily in their digital offerings last year, reporting an overall increase in their digital numbers of +37.1% YoY.


Home Interest

It’s been a strong period for the luxury end of the Home Interest category, with both Elle Decoration and World of Interiors posting actively purchased increases across both print and digital YoY.  Hearst have reaped the benefits of a distribution partnership with Lloyds Premier Account, whereby new customers are entitled to a Hearst magazine subscription of their choice.  All titles owned by the publisher have in turn grown their total print numbers YoY.  In a category where most titles continue to follow a print-first approach, growth was seen in their digital offerings, which were up +66.2% YoY, highlighting the importance of extending their reach across multiple platforms going forward.


With only three titles releasing figures for the year the overall sector fell by -8.0% YoY, albeit off a small base. PC Gamer saw the smallest decline in the market, falling by -6.5% YoY in their combined print and digital circulation. Digital numbers within this sector grew by +3.7% YoY, displaying the consumer reliance for relevant content on the platform where most of this activity is taking place.

Food and Retail

We have seen an overall decrease YoY of -7.0% across the Food and Retail sector for combined UK print and digital circulation.  Delicious was the top performing title within the sector growing PoP and remaining static on their actively purchased circulation YoY.  Delicious have also grown their digital traffic by +50% over the past 12 months, which has allowed the publication to build its foodie community across all of their platforms.  As expected, the Christmas period boosted PoP numbers for most, with many titles publishing their biggest issue of the year in December.


The fitness sector have posted varying results for the Jul – Dec 16. It was a positive story for Balance, who posted their 2nd ABC result and reported a steady +0.6% PoP. During this time we also saw the closure of two freemium titles, Coach and Sport, who both ceased printing in the last three months. This was a significant hit for the fitness sector as they made up 43% of the overall market in the last reporting period. Outside of the freemium market there has been a strong move towards digital editions with Runners’ World being the big winner at +98.3% YoY. With the removal of free content from the market it will be interesting to see if these audiences can be converted to the paid-for market.

Men’s Lifestyle

A relatively flat period for Men’s Lifestyle has been overshadowed by Esquire’s fantastic performance. At +7.6% YoY for overall print circulation and +72.6% YoY for their digital edition, Hearst’s male-focused title has had another consecutive period of growth. This is testament to Hearst’s new distribution approach throughout 2016 which, in a sector where flat is normally an achievement, has allowed them to pull away from their competitors.


The film market was down -16.8% YoY, although off a relatively small base. The market’s leader Empire magazine struggled and was down -17.7% YoY but is actively looking at ways to combat this decline. They’ve decided to broaden their editorial pillars to include quality television and gaming to attract a wider audience base as well as featuring a more diverse range of films in an effort to be more gender neutral.