Monday, 16 August 2010

ABC Circulation Figures: Unreal Mens' Magazines

This is the time of year when ABC release magazine circulation figures for the first half of 2010.
Press Gazette takes a detailed look at how the leading titles are performing in each magazine sector here.
Magazines have been hit hard by the recession, none more so than "mens' lifestyle" titles, so although there has been a small decline in sales, this is seen as good news by Press Gazette; "Men’s lifestyle is holding up resiliently with just a 3.8 per cent drop year on year."
Here are the top titles:

Shortlist - 518,222 (1.5%)
Sport - 305,479 (0.0%)
Men's Health - 245,754 (-1.8%)
FHM - 192,586 (-18.1%)
Nuts - 147,134 (-22.0%)
GQ - 120,063 (0.0%)
Stuff - 85,370 (1.0%)
Zoo - 80,026 (-27.9%)
BBC Focus - 73,614 (8.0%)
Men's Fitness - 68,123 (0.2%)
Esquire - 58,151 (10.3%)
Healthy for Men - 56,356 (-15.6%)
Loaded - 53,591 (-26.3%)
Wired - 50,009 (N/A)
Front Magazine - 40,971 (7.8%)
Square Mile Magazine 20,204 (-24.8%)
Hedge Magazine 5,318 (-5.9%)

The two leading titles - Shortlist and Sport - are both given away free, and the figures are for their "distribution".
This could just be their print run, it doesn't factor in that many, or maybe most, copies could be left untouched in a large pile at the back of a pub or shop.
With the paid-for titles the biggest drop is for the lads' mags; FHM, Nuts, Zoo, and Loaded have seen sales drop by 18-28%.
Men's Health, GQ and Stuff are "doing well" just by holding steady.
ABCs are seen in the industry as reliable - though even "for sale" titles' figures may not be quite what they appear.
The Guardian's Media Monkey reports today that "Wired is proud to have reached its year one circulation target, posting an ABC total of 50,009... What Condé Nast omitted to mention was that it only hit its 50,000 target by giving away 10,000 copies."
But then even quality newspapers can bump up their circulation figures by including "bulk sales"; copies given away free by hotels, airlines, online supermarkets and so on.
Without an ABC audit any publications circulation or sales figures should be taken with a large spoonful of salt.
The numbers are intended to lure potential advertisers to a title, and with no independent verification claimed sales could be twice or even ten times what they actually are.
You may have noticed that there are no gay titles on the ABC mens' magazines list.
That's not because ABC don't regard gay mags as real mens' magazines, but because no gay title has its circulation audited by ABC.
Bent used to have one - which put it at 60,000 copies. But that's for a free title, and represents copies distributed/printed.
The Pink Paper - also free - (and technically not a mens' magazine, as it was for women as well) - had an ABC from February 2006.
MediaWeek reported at the time; "The free fortnightly tabloid newspaper became the first gay and lesbian publication to have an ABC certificate this month. Its audited circulation is 40,000 copies per edition..."
"Editor Tris Reid-Smith said: "It has taken a lot of hard work to get us to this stage. But it now seems clear that the Pink Paper has an amazing future ahead of it. And the fact that we are starting with an honest, proven circulation figure puts us head and shoulders above our competitors.""
Was Mr Reid-Smith suggesting that the unaudited unproven circulation figures claimed by other gay magazines are dishonest?
Tris Reid-Smith is now the editor of GT magazine.
In their latest media pack GT claims a circulation of - and I quote - "68,143".
Fagburn would like to suggest that perhaps the publishers of GT are being rather modest.
Surely the sales of this excellent magazine must now be closer to 10 million, if not more?
Although - sadly - there is no way of verifying such a figure.

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