Consumer magazine publishing in the UK

Report Overview

Consumer magazine publishing in the UK

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Consumer magazine publishing in the UK
Long-known market trends have become even more accentuated: circulation decline is -13% (consumer spend decline is c. -3%); print advertising is down -12%, with online advertising spend up a mere 1% (see pages 3, 11)
The magazine industry’s online audience reach approach looks even weaker than last year: Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers are now blocking ad networks and trackers from setting third-party cookies by default, with material consequences for advertising (see page 10)
Aggregators including Apple News+ have brought some welcome revenue and tech attention but we strike a cautious note for both the supply-side strategic rationale and ultimately also for the use-case, which may be softer than publishers assume (pages 7, 8, 9)


Introduction: the rise of capabilities-led consumer publishing

  • Market overview
  • From brand to capabilities

Print magazine circulation decline shows no signs of slowing after a challenging 2018

Popular genres crashing; some signs of life in 2019 launches

Consumer spend relatively steady, and seeing a slow conversion to subscription

Digital magazines are large scale compared to print, but small scale in a digital universe

Publisher confidence in digital editions growing again

Apple News+ appeals to magazine publishers

Aggregation: an overview of the key services

Advertising: browser changes make casual web visitors harder to monetise

Advertising: revenues and forecasts

Magazine publisher M&A has picked up since mid-2018

Publisher strategies continue to evolve as industry consolidation ramps up

Consumer publishing and B2B publishing are becoming more alike

Supply chain pressures: temporary reprieve but strategic challenge remains

Appendix: Publisher performance

  • Publisher performance breakdowns: print
  • Publishers: print performance indicators
  • Publishers: digital and print performance indicators
  • Publishers: mean and median gender pay gap

List of charts/tables

Circulation per annum (m)

UK paid circulation per annum, by frequency (m)

Five year KPIs for total circulation by genre

Paid circulation (m) and share of newsstand and subscription (%), 2018

Number of titles by price bracket 2013 vs. 2018 (relative to total, %)

Consumer spend (£m) and year-on-year change (%)

Proportion of sales via subscription, by price bracket (%)

Top 15 in core magazine categories online (unique users, September 2019)

Digital edition UK annual circulation (m)

Digital edition UK consumer spend (m)

What is the biggest challenge for publishers working with Apple’s subscription news offering Apple News+?

Aggregators currently operating in the UK

Ad auctions on a selection of publisher pages, by presence of third-party cookies

Consumer magazine display advertising revenues (£m)

Business magazine display advertising revenues (£m)

Top consumer magazine publishers: cover price, growth in UK paid circulation and UK consumer spend (bubble size), 2018

Top consumer magazine publishers: key operating metrics for 2018

Mean gender pay gap within UK magazines (%)

Median gender pay gap within UK magazines (%)