Mags: State of the (mag)nation - March 2011 Readership

After an impressive debut, MasterChef magazine has come off the boil, reporting a 17.7% decline in readership in the three months to March 2011 following a 12% contraction between September and December 2010, during which time Aussies seem to have turned to health magazines (Weight Watchers and Good Health gained 22% more readers) to offset the MasterChef effect (sort of like the "Freshman Five").

Though the season three premiere attracted less viewers than season two, MasterChef is back in the TV business, which may prove to buoy readership numbers, a lagging reflection of sales, as we enter the winter months and take to dining indoors and swapping recipes again. News Magazines will be hopeful Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris, Matt Preston and the gang will put the spring (roll/chicken/lamb) in the magazine's step resulting in a healthy year of sales after debuting last May, and thus a boost in reader interest.

Still, News Magazines isn't taking chances, jumping on the momentum of the home and interiors revival with Network Ten and SHINE's new design show, The Renovators. Vogue Living's former editor-in-chief Robyn Holt is a judge. Given that magazine's readership increased over 40% in the year to March, this could prove a fruitful partnership. The company's Inside Out and Country Style titles also posted impressive readership gains, but Your Garden (published by Pacific) blitzed the field. In fact, the Home & Lifestyle (up 10.5%) and Gardening (up 0.6%) categories fared well. 

While Aussies are busy in the business of their own backyards, they are also keen on knowing what's happening in the world at large. News, current affairs and business magazines gained 11% more readers, with The Big Issue, The Monthly, BRW, Time and The Week all gaining ground, one of the positive news stories to come off the back of the Middle East uprisings, subsequent global unrest, a strong Aussie dollar and natural events of Biblical proportions, as tabled in the last edition of The Burke Report. Osama bin Laden may prove another boon to the category.

Women's fashion was also met with passion: Vogue Australia (up 24%) and Harper's BAZAAR (up 15.1%) upped the sartorial ante with issues worthy of swapping amongst friends to allay their oft-exorbitant prices, helping along the segment's 2.9% readership rise as marie claire lost steam.

In women's lifestyle, Gemma Crisp's direction at Cleo resulted in a 7% year-on-year readership gain (requisite nod to the debut of Park St on Foxtel, though the Bachelor of the Year competition presumably packed more publicity power, and any curiosity piqued by Paper Giants won't be known till next audit.) Pacific Magazines' Prevention lost reader interest, suffering a 27.3% decline.

Meanwhile, the royal wedding may have a knock-on effect in the bridal category, which continues to perform well as copies of Bride to Be (up 22%) are swapped amongst friends and family.

Alpha got the axe, but its readership numbers were AOK, as apposed to lad-mags FHM and Zoo Weekly, which dropped right off. Chris Lilley's ABC mockumentary Angry Boys and the launch of Maxim in the Aussie market might renew interest in what guys are really getting up to if Charlie Sheen's hedonistic playboy antics were not enough for you. God, help us all.

Readership tables follow...







Girl With a Satchel