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ABCs show break out for Women's Health, declines for old faves

The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has released circulation figures for the second quarter of 2010 (April to June) and the stats makes for some interesting reading and serves as an indicator of the health of specific consumer publications.

In a double body blow to publishers UCM, heat magazine saw a significant drop in circulation to 43 782 (down from 52 881 year-on-year*), while FHM declined to 52 594 (from 57 049). Heat rival People also declined to 87 269 (from 95 003).

Growth with new entrant

The men's category saw growth with new entrant Destiny Man racking up a respectable circulation of 15 036 (on 9851 single copy sales), while GQ increased its circulation to 28 770 (on single copy sales of 19 430). Men's Health showed a healthy increase in circulation to 71 800 (up from 67 290). Gadget magazine Stuff climbed to 17 962 (from 14 581) and Popular Mechanics grew from 45 467 to 47 714. SA Sports Illustrated fell from 30 593 to 25 095** while Car saw a marginal decline.

Compleat Golfer (published by Ramsay Media) fell by nearly 35% to under 20 000 as the magazine decided to limit bulk distribution and refocus on a more traditional newsstand model. Golf Digest, meanwhile, jumped from 19 855 to 43 937 or about 55%. Golf Digest editor Stuart McLean says the significant increase is because Golf+ magazine, which went out free to all Playmoregolf and World of Golf members, was closed down towards the end of last year.

"Golf Digest then incorporated a monthly Golf+ section in our magazine, starting with the December 2009 issue, and organised a deal where all those members now buy our magazine on a subscription basis," explains McLean.

The run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup doesn't seem to have boosted circulation figures for soccer titles. SoccerLife 442 fell from 32 409 to 27 863 and Soccer Laduma, a newspaper, fell from 292 059 to 261 814 but Kaizer Chiefs fan magazine Amakhosi climbed from 21 906 to 27 404 and Kick Off grew to 49 821 (from 46 499).**

Continue to battle it out

FinWeek and the Financial Mail meanwhile continue to battle it out for top circulation spot in the weekly business segment. FinWeek has a higher paid-for circulation (25 562) than FM (24 139) and pushes more free bulk circulation than its rival thus, ensuring top spot with a circulation of 28 358 (down from 31 817) to FMs 26 224 (also down from 27 253).

Noseweek, the monthly investigative journal (I consider it a business magazine: it tells business exactly how not to go about doing things), was slightly up at 21 867. Interestingly, Noseweek is one of only three consumer titles listing paid for Digital Editions (contributing 1202 copies to its circulation), the others being Succeed magazine (73 copies) and Stuff (with a single copy) while only one consumer title lists free circulation Digital Editions (Raising Kids).

The Guptas and their soon-to-be-launched pro-government newspaper (finally, somebody who won't be affected by the planned media tribunal), The New Age, might take a moment to reflect on circulation figures of The Thinker, the magazine launched by their 'senior advisor & board member of TNA Media' Dr Essop Pahad, currently standing at 1904 copies, of which 809 are paid for.

Which is odd if you think the rate card claims a print run of 15 000 and that the OBC will set you back R35 000. Ajay Gupta serves as non-executive chairman for The Thinker's publisher Vusizwe Media. Upon investigation, Pahad's personal assistant confirmed the print run is actually 5000.

Mixed growth

As a category, family-orientated magazines experienced mixed growth.

Bona grew to 106 159 (from 93 802) and Drum grew to 116 691 (from 102 865) while both Huisgenoot and You saw declines. Reader's Digest South Africa continues plunging to the depths (how many publishers have tried to save this magazine just to sell it on again?), with a drop to 35 040 from 47 376.

The health category also saw most titles decline in circulation (maybe due to the launch of Women's Health, which the ABC lists in another category).

Weigh-Less declined steeply to 22 832 (from 27 417). Shape declined to 41 290 (from 46 647) and Longevity, recently booted from the Avusa magazine stable, declined to 19 695 (from 24 524).

Women's Health came in with a total circulation figure of 68 331 on very strong single copy sales of 61 754. It puts this newbie less than 4000 copies shy of well-established stable mate Men's Health and would arguably make it the most successful magazine launch South Africa has seen in a very long while (the title launched with an October 2009 issue).

All saw drops

Cleo, Cosmo, Elle, Fair Lady, Glamour, Marie Claire and a number of other female interest titles all saw drops in circulation. Cosmo shed nearly 10% of its circulation. Move! dropped by nearly 12%. O - The Oprah magazine brought more bad news for Associated Magazines with a decline of 17%. Ideas/Idees and Essentials both managed slight gains, as did Your Family and Soul. Woman and Home saw a respectable increase of nearly 5.4%.

Among the Afrikaans giants, Rooi Rose gained ground, upping circulation to 118 395 (from 107 568) while Sarie fell from 139 031 to 132 646. Finesse declined to under 90 000 while Leef experienced a mini aneurysm with a decline of nearly 20%.

In the home category, Elle Decoration experienced a serious drop to under 20 000 copies. House & Leisure fell by nearly 13%, SA Home & Garden fell by 11.6% and SA Garden/Tuin Paleis fell by nearly 20%.

Food & Home Entertainment, meanwhile, showed positive growth, as did Top Billing.

New editor for Visi

Visi continued its fall from grace, dropping nearly 40% to just above the 12 000 mark. However, editorial director Sumien Brink says last year's Jan-June circulation figure of 20 240 included free distribution (15 602 + 4638) but this year the title only submitted its single copy sales figures.

Jacquie Myburgh Chemaly, newly appointed editor of Visi.
Jacquie Myburgh Chemaly, newly appointed editor of Visi.
She also announced the appointment of Jacquie Myburgh Chemaly as the new editor of Visi, who will be based primarily in Johannesburg, and that a marketing campaign with Net#work BBDO is currently being finalised. This will be launched with the October issue, which will see guest editor Trevyn McGowan at the helm. Myburgh Chemaly's first issue with the magazine will be on sale in December.

On the flipside, Tuis/Home also managed to increase its circulation to 72 936 (from 61 974).

The travel category saw the departure of Weg's legendary launch editor Bun Booysens for the editorship of Die Burger. Circulation at the title declined from 93 209 to 87 440. (For the curious, Die Burger's circulation in the Western Cape dropped from 63 757 to 61 153and from 15 185 to 12 438 in the Eastern Cape in the corresponding period).

Arch rival Getaway continues its decline which started with the launch of Weg, falling from 59 300 to 51 507. Country Life managed an increase, from 36 822 to 40 100.

On the newspaper front

On the newspaper front nearly all the dailies lost circulation. The Cape Argus, recently rocked by the brown envelope scandal, declined steeply from 60 394 to 52 304. The Daily Sun dropped from 501 734 to 433 224, or by more than 13%. The Star declined from 162 935 to 154 092.

The Citizen broke the sector's losing streak and increased its circulation from 64 685 to 71 757. Son, Isolezwe and Volksblad all saw small improvements.

On the weekend front, the relaunch of City Press in May this year couldn't save it of a drop of 9.5%. Rapport fell by nearly 10% while the Sunday Times declined by more than 8% to 462 372 from just over the half million mark.

Isolezwe ngeSonto showed everybody that the vernacular is growing, with an increase of more than 22% to 67 483. Tabloid Sondag grew from 34 146 to 47 124 and Sondag Son came in at 64 290 with its first ABC results. The Sunday Independent grew to 40 041.

Ilanga also showed growth, climbing from 98 224 to 102 995. The Mail & Guardian declined from 51 166 to 45 745 and UmAfrika fell from 27 819 to 19 576.

*All figures compared against the corresponding previous period.

**Please note that the story was edited at 3.41pm on 26 August 2010 to correct the figures for Sports Illustrated and Kick Off. We apologise for the errors.

About Herman Manson: @marklives

The inaugural Vodacom Social Media Journalist of the Year in 2011, Herman Manson (@marklives) is a business journalist and media commentator who edits industry news site His writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines locally and abroad, including He also co-founded Brand magazine.

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