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Why print is thriving – what the latest ABC circulation figures say about successful magazines

Dan Linstead , 27 February 2019

The latest official magazine circulation figures have been released by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), covering the second half of 2018 – and for anyone with a penchant for print, they make fascinating reading.

Across a spectrum of different interests and demographics, magazine circulations are either stable or actually increasing – defying the perception that the world is going digital. From current affairs to the countryside, history to kids, print magazines are responding to the times and building sizeable, loyal new audiences. And among the winners are both paid-for newsstand magazines and, boasting many of the highest overall circulations, member and customer magazines.

At Immediate, we’re proud to publish three magazines in the overall top 20. Two of them are membership magazines – Nature’s Home for the RSPB, and the English Heritage Members’ Magazine. Meanwhile on the newsstand, Radio Times remains the UK’s biggest-selling quality magazine with an average of over 580k sales per week.

Newsstand and membership: three of Immediate’s magazines feature in the ABC top 20

What do these titles have in common? Most importantly – loyalty. Reliably large circulations are generally built on subscriptions or membership, where readers have opted into a regular relationship with the publisher. Across Immediate’s whole consumer portfolio, we have over a million such subscribers. These are people with real passions – stargazers, triathletes, cross-stitchers, history buffs – and they provide the backbone to everything we do.

Similarly, committed members provide the core to the highest-circulation ‘free’ magazines. In the charity sector, they’re topped by the National Trust, with almost 2.5 million copies, and followed by our publications for the RSPB and English Heritage. The recipients of membership magazines have opted into content just as much as paying subscribers, and they represent a huge, engaged audience. As these ABC figures show, print magazines remain the very best way to meet their needs and feed their passions.

As the MD of the Content Marketing Association, Catherine Maskell put it: “The figures confirm what we knew to be the case, that the content marketing print magazine sector is in very rude health. The many branded magazines that feature in the list are superb quality premium products which reflect brilliantly on both the brands they feature and the publishers who created them.”

And – we might add – on the loyal subscribers and members who read them.

Read Immediate’s full ABC results reaction here.

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