Mags: State of the (mag)nation - December 2010 Readership

The December 2010 Roy Morgan Readership results were very good news for Rupert Murdoch's News Magazines: the publisher is responsible for putting out a 77% share of the country's food magazines, for which we have an enduring passion reflected in a 22.6% category rise. Four of the top 10 most read monthly titles are News foodies.

Though our appetite for MasterChef in print waned 12% between September and December 2010 (a glimpse of plateauing sales to come?), News is likely hoping renewed interest in its TV doppelganger will follow from Network Ten's investment in the show: the station just signed a three-year mega-contract to secure the rights. Over-zealous? We do have fickle tastes.
And last year, we also wanted to help each other improve our waists. Health magazines are going nuts. Though sales are down, the health category added 20% more readers to its fitness club. The leader remains Pacific Magazines' Women's Health, followed by a renewed enthusiasm for ACP's Good Health, which lost its 'and medicine' moniker in 2009, around the same time the company axed its stablemate Slimming and Health.

Homemaker titles also found comfort in the arms of readers in 2010: the category experienced 13.8% growth with Australian House & Garden (up 32.7%), Inside Out (up 27.7%) and Australian Handyman (up 21.6%) leading the way. We also got our hands dirty in the garden: Pacific Magazines' relaunched Your Garden blitzed the filed with a 39.1% readership rise.

The most-read Australian titles? The Australian Women's Weekly (2.23 million), Woman's Day (1.99 million), Better Homes and Gardens (1.95 million), New Idea (1.44 million) and That's Life (1.08 million).  

Other top readership performers in 2010 included Bride To Be (up 38.7% to 104,000 readers), BRW (up 25.4% to 217,000) and Woolworths Good Taste (up 15.9% to 691,000). The biggest losers included Soap World (-33.9%), Australian Traveller (-24%) and FHM (-12%).






Girl With a Satchel


Anonymous said...

How can magazines whose circulation dropped dramatically have a growth in readership? What's the difference? I don't understand.

Erica Bartle (nee Holburn) said...

Hi anon,

Readership is extremely contentious.

Circulation, according to the Audit Bureau, reflects the actual paid-for copies of the magazine or "net paid sales". These include copies sold through retailers who buy them wholesale, cover price sales, individual subscriptions, accommodation/airline sales, education sales and bundled sales.

For more information on circulation, see here:

Regarding readership, the numbers reflect the average number of people who read one copy of a paid-for magazine, reflecting the magazine's "pass-on rate".

For example:
Famous magazine has 330,000 average weekly readers; it has 90,242 average weekly sales. Its "pass-on rate" is therefore 3.7 copies per issue.

Vogue magazine has 388,000 monthly readers and sales of 52,211, giving it a pass-on rate of 7.4 readers per issue.

Certain issues of a magazine will have a greater pass-on rate effect: for example, I might pass on my copy of Who or Frankie or Inside Out magazine if I think a friend will enjoy the content.

In certain households, like share houses, magazines are also shared around to limit the costs. Likewise in office spaces. And it's common for women, in particular, to buy magazines and then pass them on to mothers/daughters/grandmothers (grandma might like the crosswords, mum likes the recipes, daughter likes the fashion).

And that's not taking into account all the people who borrow magazines from libraries or nick them from the doctor's office or flick through them at the check-out and then put them back who never pay for them in a newsagent.

Readership is a necessary measurement for publishers, who use the verified data (as apposed to pie-in-the-sky numbers) in order to sell their publications to media buyers looking to buy advertising that gets maximum exposure to the right readers for their clients. Readership reflects how many people overall are engaging with their magazines beyond committed buyers. Cover prices are still a barrier to some readers.

Roy Morgan has been conducting its readership surveys in the Australian market for 30-odd years and it's now facing competition for its services.

The industry body The Newspaper Works has reportedly commissioned Ipsos MediaCT to produce a rival readership survey. Read more about that here:

Hope this helps to clarify your thinking/understanding... not sure it will!


Anonymous said...

That explains a lot, thanks! So, which is more important for magazines? Are they both important? Sorry for all the questions!

Anonymous said...

And how do they measure readership? How do you know which buyers live in a share house or just throw the copy away when they're finished?