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February 21, 2024updated 22 Feb 2024 9:43am

Magazine ABCs 2023: Private Eye sales dip as current affairs mags flag

By Dominic Ponsford

Most UK news and current affairs magazine titles, including Private Eye, saw steep year-on-year circulation declines in 2023 according to the latest figures from auditor ABC.

Private Eye remains the best-selling news magazine in the UK with an average of 231,315 sales per fortnight, but this figure was down 6% year on year.

The Economist’s cut-price Espresso daily digital edition was the fastest growing title, up 73.6% year on year to 21,775 (however only 3,859 of this total was in the UK).

BBC History magazine was the next fastest-growing title, up 37% year on year to 76,001 sales per edition, helped by an average of 6,104 sales via bundled all-you-can-read magazine services such as Readly.

The Economist‘s print edition fell 12.3% to 485,787 and its digital edition was down 2.3% to 966,947.

Most of The Economist’s sales are outside the UK. It has 541,676 digital edition sales in North America and 149,394 in the UK. The print edition sells 283,282 copies in North America and 79,136 in the UK.

Most titles saw circulation declines in the double-digits, representing a reversal of fortunes for a sector which has previously been robust. Last year for example Private Eye grew its sales year on year.

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The Spectator put in a robust performance in 2023, with sales flat year on year at 96,570.

Magazine cover prices have been driven up by rising newsprint costs and sales have been impacted by the economic downturn and cost of living crisis.

Earlier this month Emap sold two titles citing “an increasingly challenging consumer newstrade market”.

The table below shows actively-purchased sales of UK news and current affairs magazines. In most cases digital editions are separately audited by ABC, but where no digital edition is broken out these sales feature in the combined total (eg. The Oldie and BBC History). Sales quoted are global. We have included a separate column for bundled “all you can read” sales via services such as Readly.

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