Circulation for Canada’s largest magazines continued to fall in the first half of the year according to the latest six-month data from Alliance for Audited Media (AAM). However, digital initiatives are proving to have a positive effect on a number of magazine brands.
Total paid and verified circulation for the 56 titles reporting comparable data declined 4.8% for the six months ended June 30, while paid subscriptions fell 10.1%. One bright spot for the industry was single-copy sales, which were up 3% over the same period last year.
Neal Lulofs, executive vice-president of marketing and strategy for the AAM in Chicago, said that the March closure of wholesaler and distributor Benjamin News might have impacted six-month averages for some single-copy sales.
Approximately 86% of AAM’s Canadian magazines – 48 titles in all – reported having digital replica editions for the period. Circulation for these editions totaled 255,764, accounting for approximately 3% of total paid, verified and analyzed non-paid circulation.
According to AAM, digital editions during the six-month period nearly tripled from the 72,587 average copies reported in the June 2013 period.
The digital magazine service Next Issue is helping lessen the impact of dwindling print readership for Rogers Communications (which owns Marketing and MarketingMag.ca).
Louise Leger, communications manager for Rogers Media’s publishing division, said that Next Issue contributed to a 30% year-over-over increase in the company’s single copy sales in the first six months of 2014, far exceeding the industry average of 3%.
Each download of a magazine title on the digital subscription service counts towards its single-copy sales number, producing massive jumps in single-copy sales for several Rogers titles including Sportsnet Magazine (360%), Today’s Parent (185.6%), Flare (101.7%) and Moneysense (94.5%).
Digital now accounts for approximately 9% of Rogers’ overall circulation – up from 1% last year – with Next Issue comprising approximately 85% of digital circulation and 7% of total circulation.
Trouble at the top
Twenty-one of the country’s top 25 magazines saw overall circulation declines, though none more precipitous than Reader’s Digest, which fell 28.6% to 326,968. The country’s largest magazine as recently as 2012, Reader’s Digest now ranks third behind longtime women’s title rivals Chatelaine (534,294) and Canadian Living (497,641).
Reader’s Digest also lost more than half of its single-copy sales, which fell 55.2% from 41,393 to 18,535. Several other titles saw double-digit declines in single-copy sales, including Canadian Business (17.2%), TC Media’s Canadian Living (13.9%) and the independent Canadian House & Home (15.3%).