Print Magazine Audiences Up

While the story told by advertising pages wasn’t a positive one, prompting the Publishers Information Bureau to stop reporting the figures for ad pages earlier this year, the audience for many print magazines continues to grow, according to the latest data from GfK MRI, covering the fall 2014 period.

The overall mixed picture was probably partly due to disruptions in newsstand delivery following the closure of Source Interlink Distribution earlier this year.

On the positive side, many celebrity and fashion titles saw audience increases from fall 2013 to fall 2014, with People up 2.1% from 42.7 million to 43.6 million; In Style up 3.9% from 4.59 million to 4.76 million; and Life & Style Weekly up 3.7% from 4.59 million to 4.76 million. Meanwhile, Elle rose 2.2% from 5.42 million to 5.54 million; Glamour edged up 2.6% from 11.54 million to 11.79 million; Brides soared 16.9% from 4.73 million to 5.53 million; and Essence jumped 11.6% from 7.04 million to 7.86 million.



A number of culinary and epicurean titles also enjoyed increases, with Bon Appetit up 9% from 6.11 million to 6.66 million; Cooking Light up 5.2% from 10.89 million to 11.47 million; and Food Network Magazine up 2.5% from 11.65 million to 11.94 million. Among men’s interest titles Esquire rocketed 23% from 2.95 million to 3.63 million, and Field & Stream rose 6.5% from 7.75 million to 8.25 million. Forbes led the way in business titles, growing 13.5% from 5.91 million to 6.71 million.

On the down side, among women's interest titles, Allure slipped 9.5% from 6.55 million to 5.93 million, Redbook tumbled 19.3% from 7.7 million to 6.21 million, Self slid 21% from 5.44 million to 4.3 million, and Shape was down 8.8% from 5.65 million to 5.15 million. In the domestic category Good Housekeeping fell 11.2% from 19.03 million to 16.9 million, and Martha Stewart Living declined 10.9% from 10.31 million to 9.19 million.

Automotive titles also took some hits, with Car and Driver down 6.1% from 10.17 million to 9.55 million while Road & Track plunged 43% from 4.79 million to 2.71 million. Among men’s interest titles ESPN the Magazine was down 5.2% from 14.57 million to 13.82 million; Sports Illustrated fell 7.6% from 19.79 million to 18.29 million; Maxim dropped 17.6% from 8.31 million to 6.86 million; Men’s Health slipped 3% from 12.88 million to 12.5 million; and Men’s Fitness tumbled 18.4% from 8.58 million to 7 million.

It’s worth noting that many of these decreases probably were at least partly due to the closure of Source Interlink Distribution, which resulted in serious disruptions to newsstand supplies for many retailers. According to MagNet, following Source's closure in June, total retail sales volume dropped by 27% from 417.9 million in the third quarter of 2013 to 346.6 million in the third quarter of 2014.

"Magazine Display" photo from Shutterstock.

6 comments about "Print Magazine Audiences Up".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 3, 2014 at 8:20 a.m.

    Isn't it interesting that as magazine issue audiences grow, their share of ad revenue declines. Meanwhile, as TV's ratings fragment, its ad revenues grow. Why is that? Sure, you can get all of the reach you want----almost as much as before----by splitting your buys on many more channels. But the average audience per channel is much smaller than it used to be, especially on the broadcast side----yet the ad dollars still flow. Is it possible that some other factors are at play----not merely the size of the audience per telecast or per issue?

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, December 3, 2014 at 9:11 a.m.

    Ed, the 'audience' for a TV programme is achieved (generally in 30 to 60 minutes) and reflects the average minute of a programme. The 'audience' for a magazine is anyone who has looked into or read that magazine for (generally) two minutes in the past x-weeks (can be past week, past 4 weeks etc. depending on the country). That is, the audience for a magazine has a lower threshold and accumulates over a much longer period of time (but genuinely reflects how people read longitudinally). That is, 1 million in one medium is not necessarily 'equal' in value to a media buy to 1 million in another medium. How much of this do you think is in play.

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, December 3, 2014 at 9:13 a.m.

    Ooops. That should be "(generally) in 30 to 60 minutes. Joe ... please, pretty please, can we have 'preview' before submission, and also can we have paragraphs.

  4. Patrick Stasolla from Universal Media Inc., December 3, 2014 at 9:47 a.m.

    I wish this article's headline was accurate, but unfortunately when aggregated, the titles as mentioned above, have a YOY loss of -0.8% in total reported audience. Also, how can In Style and Life & Style Weekly have exactly the same audience #'s? Additionally, TV and Consumer Print should never be compared head to head...Apples and Oranges. Disappointing article.

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 3, 2014 at 10:43 a.m.

    John, my point is not how audiences are defined, it's about the silly assumption that big numbers----in this case, magazine "total audience" estimates have a lot to do with garnering advertiser support. A while ago one of the agency media directors suggested publicly that magazines should drop total audience and sell their "core" audience. Since this would mean a smaller audience many in the publishing business were concerned, thinking that that, in turn, would cause advertisers to cut back on magazine spending. So the idea was soon quashed. Yet the evidence, to date, suggests that audience size is not the main driver of ad spending---at least for media other than TV.

  6. John Grono from GAP Research, December 3, 2014 at 2:41 p.m.

    Patrick, I agree that the headline could be stretching it (I don't have the report data to analyse), but a few other comments. When you compare YOY audiences, you really need to factor in the annual population growth. For example,, in Australia it is running high at around 1.8% p.a.. If you're not beating population growth then you are starting to fall behind. I also agree with your apples and oranges comments. 1 reader does not necessarily equal 1 viewer either in how they are counted (the point I was very poorly trying to make to Ed) or in their engagement - which is one of the biggest hurdles around cross-media measurement. Sure we can do the mathematical gymnastics to fuse them together - but unless we are fusing like with like it is a pretty meaningless exercise. We need to harmonise media audience metrics well before we start on cross-media measurement. And yes Ed, the fixation on "the biggest possible number" is a vanity writ large - especially for an industry like magazines of which the majority are firmly targeted at well defined niches which is their strength ... that they then completely counter-act with "the big number". But my point around the definition and calculation differences I think is still valid. For example, digital media still likes to compare its cumulative monthly views of video to TV's average minute audience. It's akin to comparing monthly reach with a single minute. I see comparisons like that in the Australian trade press from time to time by exuberant sales people ... and that's when I have to get out the cricket bat and give them a whack back into reality.

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