ABCs: Zoo loses a third of circulation as all weeklies drop

Zoo WeeklyThe weekly magazine market continued to slide in the first quarter of this year, with titles such as Zoo Weekly, Famous, NW and OK! all experiencing double digit declines once again, having also posted similar declines in the last audit period.

While no weekly title posted any growth there was an slowing in the decline for titles That’s Life!, Take 5 and New Idea according to the latest round of figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) which take in the first three months of 2014.

Media analyst Steve Allen told Mumbrella: “They’re certainly starting to bottom out, particularly the mass titles. They’re down to single digit declines so we feel the mass market is starting to stablise. What we didn’t expect the younger celebrity titles to continue to lose double digits, some of them have been in continual decline for some time.”

Zoo Weekly continues to experience the greatest declines out of the weekly titles, with the Bauer Media Group men’s title experiencing a 36.4 per cent decline. This time last year the title was averaging 50,021 copies per week, but it now shifts just 31,832 each week.

“There’s been no arresting on the decline. Sooner or later Bauer will cancel the title. I can’t imagine they can make money out of that title a year from now. It’s pretty clear there’s going to be further declines,” said Allen.

Pacific Magazines’ Famous also continues to experience the greatest decline for the publisher, with the celebrity gossip title down by 21.8 per cent. Its circulation has dropped by 18,000 to 65,018 from 83,117 from the January – March period last year.

Rival celebrity title OK!, owned by Bauer Media Group, has put the brake on its circulation decline, posting a 16.3 per cent decline having posted a nearly 19 per cent drop in the last audit period. The title now has a circulation of 72,187 down from 86, 264 last year.

Fellow celebrity gossip Bauer title NW sits between OK! and Famous in the circulation ranks having declined by 16.7 per cent. The magazine now has a circulation of 82,011, from 98,471 from the same period last year. The title has hired Pacific Magazines’ New Idea deputy editor Mark Brandon, who was due to start this month.

Pacific Magazines’ glossy celebrity title Who had the smallest decline amongst the celebrity weekly mags, posting a 7 per cent decline with its circulation figures dropping to 113,117 down from 121,708 from the January – March period last year.

“Famous with their reformat, re-edit and pricing strategy hasn’t been continually dropping, it’s been bouncing up and down but this time no joy in that sector. The best of which was Who which had easily the lowest decline but nevertheless it was a decline above the mass titles,” said Allen.

Bauer’s Take 5 saw its circulation drop by 7.4 per cent, sliding from 178,761 to 165,467 when comparing year-on-year figures. Its direct competitor That’s Life!, owned by Pacific Magazines, fared better, with its circulation declining by 5 per cent. It now has a circulation of 197,844 down from its January to March 2013 circulation number of 208,163.

TV Week, another Bauer title, also experience a 5 per cent decline in numbers, its circulation dropping from 154,421 to 146,747.

The battle between Woman’s Day and New Idea continues, with Woman’s Day experiencing a decline of 5.3 per cent while New Idea experienced the smallest decline in weekly mags with a drop of 4.1 per cent.

Bauer’s Woman’s Day circulation dropped to 330,217 from 348,531 in the same period last year while Pacific Magazines’ New Idea saw its circulation dip to 282,206 from 294,165.

“During the period I was a bit surprised by some of the cover lines on Woman’s Day, they were a bit out there. You would have thought with a very deliberate strategy like that they were seeing an effect in circulations and New Idea, my perception was their cover lines weren’t as outrageous, they’ve in fact fared much better,” said Allen.

“There’s not much in it. One of them seems to be going hard at the market, elevating any rumour or mistruth that they can find and the other’s going a bit softer.”

The audit also shows the figures for Bauer’s Shop Til You Drop, which upped its frequency from monthly to fortnightly in October. It recorded a circulation figure of 35,640 for the January – March period having recorded a circulation of 40,155 in the last quarter of last year, however there will be no year-on-year comparisons available for the next two surveys for the title.

“I don’t think there’s any other positive other than the mass markets, which frankly hold the whole of the industry up. The fortunes of the media industry do revolve around those weekly magazines because they’re so influential on circulation, covers sold and they’re 50 per cent of the market,” said Allen.

“For the Australian magazine industry to thrive and to attract advertising dollars these weekly magazines need to stabilise and get back on the front foot.

“We are concerned still that all this carry on with the budget could very well sap consumer confidence and that will channel into magazine sales.”

CEO of Bauer Media Matthew Stanton said in a statement: “The latest AMAA audit shows weekly magazine circulation stabilising period-on-period, down just 1.7 per cent, with 19.3 million weekly audited titles purchased in Australia between January and March, 2014.

“That equates to $79.3 million spent on weekly titles in the three-month period.

“Such high discretionary spend underscores the essential role magazines play in Australian life and how our titles are integral to the things consumers care most about.”

Weekly magazines, greatest fall to smallest fall

Weekly magazines, greatest fall to smallest fall


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