Total digital sales increased 26 per cent year on year to 369,040, a slowdown on the 59 per cent growth seen in the same period last year. This was in part due to a slowdown in the number of magazines reporting digital sales, which only increased by 10 per cent to 95 magazines, compared to a 43 per cent increase in 2013.
That sales growth was enough to outpace the market, meaning digital publications now make up 2.9 per cent of magazines’ total circulation, up from 2.3 per cent a year ago. That is still just a tiny proportion of overall sales, with print circulation at 12.22m, a 3.8 per cent fall year on year and an acceleration of the 1.9 per cent drop seen in the same period a year ago.
However, a number of publishers have questioned the veracity of the ABC figures given that many now have a wide-ranging audience across the internet and mobile devices, not just through digital editions.
Barry McIlheney, CEO of the Professional Publishers’ Association, says the growth of digital editions is “encouraging” for the sector and highlights the growing demand for digital content.
He adds: “The figures in this report reiterate how shifting consumer media habits continue to impact upon today’s modern, multi-platform magazine brands. The growth of digital editions is encouraging for the sector, and it should also be remembered that this ABC report does not include the increasing number of other ways – websites, live events, social media, etc. – in which the magazine brands of today engage directly with their consumers.”
NME, which saw its average print circulation drop under 15,000 for the first time, claims to reach more than 3.6 million people across the UK.
Marcus Rich, CEO at NME’s owner IPC Media, says: “Our core focus is on expanding the overall reach of our powerful, market-leading brands. We continue to look for even more ways to satisfy and engage our consumers’ passions and in the past 12 months have launched new events and experiences, products and apps in a variety of sectors. We also look for new and exciting ways to leverage our portfolio of brands for the benefit of our advertising partners.”
The Economist’s digital edition saw the biggest increase in sales, up 72 per cent to 21,780, helping it overtake Private Eye as the most popular news magazine overall with average sales of 223,730. Total Film had the second highest average circulation at 14,091, an increase of 16 per cent, followed by BBC Top Gear magazine with 13,553.
TV choice remains the most popular paid-for magazine with total sales of 1.3 million, although its circulation dropped slightly, by 5.2 per cent. Northern & Shell’s magazine suffered a tough quarter, with OK!, New and Star all reporting double-digit declines.