Magazine ABCs: TV, Music And Tech Mags Shed Readers In ’08

How long can consumer magazines exist without any meaningful online revenue streams? While some sectors are still launching titles and still have circulations counted in the millions, the answer for some titles seems to be “not long“…

ABC figures for H208 today show growth for some – but long-term decline for others. The Periodical Publishers’ Association adds that 1.103 billion magazines were circulated in the UK in 2008 – 95 million fewer than the year before (via PG). Here are the three types of mag most under pressure…

TV guides: While it’s still the top sector with average sales per issue of 5.41 million, sales have concentrated such that the top three sell over a million each. In truth, paid-for TV guide sales shrunk 4.5 percent in H208. The sector is under threat from on-screen electronic programme guides and the growth of a VOD culture, spearheaded by the BBC’s iPlayer, which in theory at least could make paid-for printed TV guides irrelevant.

Music: The “rock” music mags are having a bad time of it: their combined sale was 531,792 – 12.2 percent down on the year before, and a world away from their heyday. It’s no wonder IPC Media’s NME has just decided to give away a free digital edition – it sold a weekly average of just 48,459 in the last half of 2008, almost a quarter less than it sold in H207. Bauer’s music monthly Q sold an average of 113,000, a 21.6 percent drop, while heavy metal weekly Kerrang! was down 32.1 percent at an average of 52,272.

Technology: PC and tech magazines, a subject perhaps better covered by a panopoly of professional sites and blogs than any other, are suffering big circulation drops, too. Mags in the business PC sector suffered 14.4 percent fewer year-on-year sales, down to an average 223,335, while PC gaming titles were down 15.3 percent. Despite gaming’s continued popularity, multiplatform games mags were down to 91,515 sales per issue, a 12.9 percent decrease year on year.

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