MAGAZINE ABCs: More pain for established lads' titles

LONDON - Bauer's Zoo and IPC's weekly rival Nuts suffered eye-popping falls in their year-on-year circulations, while Haymarket-owned Stuff and Natmag's Esquire enjoyed a stellar six months, according to the latest magazine ABC figures for July - December 2009.

Nuts: one of the men's lifestyle titles showing a major ABC fall
Nuts: one of the men's lifestyle titles showing a major ABC fall

The men’s lifestyle sector, across weeklies and monthlies, continues to be blighted by big falls in circulations, as young men desert established titles such as Bauer’s FHM and IPC’s Loaded.

The sector is dominated by free titles ShortList and Sport, which boasted respective distributions of 513,148 and 306,435 copies. The former was up 1.4% year on year and the latter down 3.4%.

Mike Soutar, chief executive of parent company ShortList Media, attributed ShortList's performance to editorial quality and its distribution network, adding that the free title was planning to add two new cities this year to its 11 city-strong distribution.

Today’s ABC figures reveal that in the paid-for market, FHM continued to lose ground on the NatMag title Men’s Health, which was the top-selling title for the second period in a row.

Men’s Health recorded an average circulation of 250,577, up just 0.2% year on year in the period July to December – its 16th consecutive year-on-year increase in circulation. This was inflated by giving away almost 10,961 copies, but this was down from 12,297 in the same period last year.

FHM, under new editor Colin Kennedy, suffered a fall of 15.2% year on year to 231,235 copies, but fell just 1.6% over the period, indicating that the title's revamp is bearing fruit.

Stuff magazine was a big winner over the past six months, upping its circulation 13.2% to 95,695 copies. Esquire, bolstered by record-high subscriptions, recorded a circulation of 59,160, up 12.2% on the period.

Loaded was down 20.9% year on year to 72.251, a fall of just 2% over the period. GQ was level on the period to record a circulation of 120,057.

Condé Nast's technology title Wired, which launched in May 2009, came in with a debut ABC of 48,275 – just shy of its 50,000 target within 12 months. However, it was boosted by giving away 10,000 free copies.

Front magazine's mix of sex, jokes and booze proved a hit, leaping up 10.4% on the period, to an ABC of 41,496.

Across the weeklies, Nuts registered an ABC of 176,835, down 24.4% year on year, and down 6.2% on the period.  Rival Zoo came in with 102,043 – down 29.9% year on year and a fall of 8.1% on the period.

However, Jo Smalley, publishing director of Nuts and Loaded, pointed to Nuts’ recent revamp with new content, which he argued was performing well on the newstand.

He also believed there would be a recovery in the weekly market, which has been hit hard by the recession.

He said: "When we come out of the recession, spending on the weekly mags is likely to come back, before some of the more premium monthly titles."

Some publishers bagged copies together over the period, including Bauer with FHM and Empire, - behaviour which rival publishers are quick to criticise.

Jamie Bill, publishing director of GQ, criticised Natmag's bagging together of women's monthly She magazine with  Esquire magazine, citing the combination as the "most incongruous thing I have witnessed since Liz Taylor married Larry Fortensky".


* In this sector Esquire had 82% of copies actively purchased while GQ had 84.4%.


table headerTop 15 Men's Lifestyle Magazines
TitlePublisherJul-Dec 09Prd/prd ChangeYr/yr Change
1Shortlist  Shortlist Media Ltd513,1480.5%1.4%
2Sport  UTV Media Ltd306,4350.4%-3.4%
3Men's Health  Natmag Rodale250,5770.1%0.2%
4FHM  Bauer Consumer Media231,235-1.6%-15.2%
5Nuts  IPC Media Ltd176,835-6.2%-24.4%
6GQ  Conde Nast Publications Ltd120,0570.0%-7.7%
7Zoo  Bauer Consumer Media102,043-8.1%-29.9%
8Stuff  Haymarket Consumer Media95,69513.2%0.7%
9BBC Focus  BBC Worldwide71,7835.3%2.1%
10Loaded  IPC Media Ltd71,251-2.0%-20.9%
11Men's Fitness  Dennis Publishing Limited68,0370.1%1.3%
12Esquire  The National Magazine Company Ltd59,16012.2%-1.5%
13T3  Future Publishing Ltd59,143N/A-1.6%
14Healthy for Men  River Publishing Ltd51,377-23.0%-18.0%
15Wired  Conde Nast Publications Ltd48,275N/AN/A

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