Delicious: 15 years of premium food publishing

News Corp’s Delicious magazine is celebrating its 15th birthday with a bumper November issue to mark the milestone. Mumbrella spoke with the team behind the premium food and lifestyle brand to find out how it’s changed in its 15 years history and how it continues to remain relevant.

October has seen News Corp’s premium food and lifestyle brand Delicious celebrate its 15th birthday, a big milestone for a brand that up until a year ago did not even have a supporting website.


Until two years ago the brand was a joint-venture between News Corp’s NewsLifeMedia and ABC Magazines. In February 2015 NewsLifeMedia became the sole owner of the Delicious brand with the first goal to create a stand-alone digital platform for the brand.

It was just prior to the buy-out that editor-in-chief Kerrie McCallum joined the brand.

Kerrie McCallum and Fiona Nilsson at the 2016 delicious Produce Awards

Kerrie McCallum and Fiona Nilsson at the 2016 Delicious Produce Awards

Fiona Nilsson, the director of News Corp’s Food Corp, says the focus for News Corp after the buyout was increasing Delicious’ lifestyle content “because we could see a huge demand for that”.

“Food is fundamental to the zeitgeist and it is central to pop culture and people’s lives,” she says.

“It’s central to so many decisions people make across travel, social lives, connectivity, kitchens, to how they decorate their homes.

“Our audience, more so than any, absolutely put food at the centre of their lifestyle, that was a big focus to increase the lifestyle content of the brand.

“That was a big shift for the brand so it was a little bit about the positioning about the lifestyle and then it was about building out the brand across platforms.”


For McCallum the buyout was the start of building Delicious.com.au.


“All of the verticals were built to reflect that food-lifestyle positioning. We knew recipes would be critical to our traffic and to our long-term loyalists but then we also knew we were growing a new audience through the entertaining and lifestyle, news, travel and drinks,” McCallum says.

“We had to triple our social following because that was a critical part of our strategy in terms of referrals.”

Early November 2015 saw Delicious.com.au officially launch with the aim of 1.2m unique page impressions in the first six months of life.

On the site’s results Nilsson is clearly pleased: “We’re actually averaging 4m pageviews and between 400 and 500,000 uniques. In social our target was 500,000 and we’re nearly at a million. It just exploded.”

McCallum, too, is excited: “It just ballooned and that was really important. It exceeded our targets online.”

Other growth for Delicious saw the team produce a coffee table book with HarperCollins and launch Delicious on Sunday in Stellar which is a weekly supplement in News Corp’s Sunday eastern-seaboard mastheads.


It’s clearly been a big 18 months for the brand, but McCallum says it “was all part of the plan” with the team having some goals they wanted to achieve in the first three years of News Corp’s sole ownership.

McCallum says success in social is important considering how competitive the food and lifestyle sector is becoming, with Delicious’ various offerings about pulling in as a diverse audience as possible.

“Yes we’ve got that very loyal monthly print audience, but equally we need to ensure our future with strong social platforms, a really strong digital platform, the weekly offering in the Sunday masthead is exposing Delicious to a broader audience,” she says.

“It still has the very sexy, premium top chefs that are doing your Monday to Friday meal plans, it’s getting that out to a mass audience which we don’t necessarily do in monthly print. Each platform is reaching a lot of people and a lot of different people.

“The coffee table book becomes the pinnacle of the brand which was always our strategy in that this has taken our books into a very premium space.

“Everything links together really well and is complementary but not duplicating anything.”

Delicious and Food Corp

Nilsson says the growth of Delicious was due to NewsLifeMedia identifying the growth in the premium lifestyle consumer segment.

We’re Food Corp now, we’re one big food network. Even before we launched and started working towards Food Corp, we had almost three mini-networks that we set up four years ago. When Nicole [Sheffield] got here she was very focused on really defining what the customer need was so we could work out what customer problem we were solving,” she says.

“What we discovered from a huge amount of research was there are three distinct kind of segments each with their own unique customer needs. We had the home cook segment which is well catered to with taste.com.au, the community segment where Best Recipes plays, and a lot of that is user-generated content, and then there was this premium lifestyle segment and we could see that was growing really quickly.

“So now there’s 13m Australians every month engaging with food media, 6.5m of those are engaging with premium food-lifestyle content so we could see there was a huge opportunity. And from an advertising perspective there is a massive opportunity across all those lifestyle advertising categories.

“Our plan was to always create this leading in Australia, and leading globally eventually, premium food-lifestyle platform, just as we had done with Taste.com.au across home cooking and mass, to do that with premium food-lifestyle. We knew Delicious was the perfect brand to do it with.”

Growing, changing, evolving

On how Delicious has changed in its 15 year history, Nilsson choses to focus instead on what has remained the same.


The first edition of Delicious magazine

“There are some elements that have stayed the same with Delicious. From day one Delicious was pioneer in a lot of ways, it certainly has pioneered the celebrity chef, for want of a better term, trend,” says Nilsson.

McCallum chimes in, offering up celebrity chef “culture, interest”.

Nilsson continues: “It was really at that pointy end of food and culture, food being such a huge part of pop culture, entertaining.

“We can see now food really is a fundamental part of the zeitgeist and culture, so it’s not surprising high profile chefs, food media and food technology are in such incredible popularity.

“Right from the beginning Delicious was there in terms of the celebrity chef and food as being central to people’s lifestyle. It was really the first truly food and culture lifestyle brand.”

Nilsson says Delicious was also “pioneering as it was multi-platform from launch”.

“From the second issue onwards the Delicious events series kicked off. Delicious does monthly dinner and lunch series which sell out in roughly two hours,” she says.

The event series led towards Delicious’ big birthday bash, a consumer-facing event hosted by Masterchef judge Matt Preston.

Delicious celebrates 15th with birthday bash hosted by Matt Preston

Delicious celebrates its 15th with birthday bash, hosted by Matt Preston

The money question

It’s a question every publisher grapples with – how do you make money from content?

For McCallum it’s primarily through circulation and advertising.

“Events we want to build and grow, we’ve started to create more consumer revenue in the last 12 months,” she says.

And events is something the Delicious team is experimenting with.

“We’ve signed off on a great partnership with the Australian Turf Club. It’s called The Muse by Delicious as the ATC want to have the races seen as a food-lifestyle destination,” explains McCallum.

“They have actually used our produce awards winners and finalists to stock the Muse and tell the story of amazing local produce. We see it as a long-term partnership.”

For the moment revenue is being driven by circulation and advertising. This is of course set against a climate in which magazines circulation is diving – including Delicious’ circ. The most recent figures saw its circulation decline by 4.1%, slipping from 91,773 to 88,021.

McCallum says: “Subscriptions is an important focus for us, they’ve stabilised. They’ve been a critical part in maintaining circulation.”

Nilsson adds: “The renewals haven’t declined at all. It’s coming back to the loyalty to the brand.”

On the circulation, McCallum is “happy to be stable”.

“It’s rare for a premium brand to have that mass audience, it has quite a high circulation yet it has premium clients and taps into that premium ad revenue range,” she says.

“That’s a rare thing and a very difficult line to straddle as either you have a premium clientele but a very low circ or a mass circ and less ads and you’re a different model. Delicious is quite rare in that manner.”

Nilsson says they are “constantly” looking at increasing their audience.

“It’s great that the mag has remained stable within the growth we’re having,” she says.

“It’s an ecosystem where all the different arms of the brand are reinforcing and promoting each other.”

For McCallum the events are a “great way to expose people to Delicious and maintain those subscriptions”.

“Stellar is a critical part, as for people who might of thought Delicious was too hard or not for them, that will be great way to expose people to Delicious monthly as well as delicious.com.au”

Nilsson agrees: “We are already seeing spikes in our traffic coming off the back of when Delicious on Sunday comes out, which is fantastic.”

And on ad revenue, McCallum is jubilant. “We went up!” she boasts.

“Fiver per cent, year-on-year, for ad revenue. 15% of that came from lifestyle clients, despite the food category being down 36% in total, so for us that was a big achievement as well.”

“Our repositioning worked,” she adds.

What’s next?

For Delicious what’s next is all about video, with a hint that ambitions for Delicious TV are not over.

March last year first saw Nicole Sheffield, managing director of NewsDNA, say the magazine was looking to enter the TV space.

“We are in discussions,” says McCallum.

“I see very much how this brand would lend itself in a television format. Nicole Sheffield will be the one to make the discussion on which way we go but we have definitely had discussions and it is something I’d love to see happen.”

While a Delicious TV show might not be in the immediate future for the brand, it is experimenting with video.

Nilsson says: “Video is a big thing for us, and a big focus. We’re in the process of producing a hundred of what we’re calling network food recipe videos that will be running across taste.com.au and delicious.com.au, particularly targeting our highest trafficking recipes. We’ll be utilising them across social as well.

“And then we’re creating 100 cool technique-based, how-to type videos. They’ll all be going live in November across Delicious and Taste.com.au”

Nilsson says videos are supported with a pre-roll strategy.

The network food recipe videos come as Delicious experiments with Facebook Live.

McCallum says: “We’ve been trialling using Facebook Live and playing around with programming, it’s very much trial and error. Video is something we’re experimenting with more and more.”

Delicious’ Friday Bar Fly sees the Delicious team visit bars and try cocktails. The most recent Friday Bar Fly had 4.6m views.

Friday Bar Fly

McCallum admits Delicious is yet to commercialise the Facebook Live videos.

“But anything is an opportunity with the right partner and the right idea,” she enthuses.


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