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February 21, 2024updated 22 Feb 2024 3:58pm

Magazine ABCs 2023: Full breakdown of titles shows 12.4% circulation fall

Press Gazette's full rundown of magazine ABC circulation data for 2023, by sector.

By Bron Maher

The circulation of UK consumer magazines continued to decline in 2023, falling 12.4% when compared with the same ABC data for 2022.

The combined average monthly circulations of the magazines audited by ABC stood at 26.8 million in 2021, 24 million in 2022 and 21 million in 2023.

[Click here for 2022’s magazine ABCs]

However, more publications saw growth in 2023 than in 2022. In 2022 only 31 print or digital magazines saw circulations rise, compared with 53 in 2023.

Last year saw a huge increase in titles registering paid-for circulation via “all you can read” bundle subscription services such as Readly (see full breakdown of digital magazine ABC figures for 2023).

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Two titles also opted into ABC auditing in 2023: Asda Magazine and the Jewish Chronicle.

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Some publications report their circulation figures to ABC at the end of each half, rather than each year. In those cases Press Gazette has averaged the circulation figures provided for each half when including them in the charts below.

With an average print circulation of one million per month, Asda Magazine enters the chart as the second highest distribution of any UK mag – behind only Tesco Magazine, another free supermarket publication.

The most-circulated paid publication was the digital edition of The Economist, which distributed an average of 991,887 copies per month globally. Notably, that represents a 2.4% decline on last year, when its digital circulation was above one million.

Several BBC-branded magazines saw growth in the year, including BBC Top Gear Magazine (up 37%), BBC Sky at Night (up 44%), BBC Wildlife (up 70%) and BBC Science Focus, the average monthly circulation of which grew 88% to 132,360. (None of those magazines are run by the BBC itself.)

The Economist’s Espresso daily digital edition also grew notably, up 74% on the second half of 2022 to 21,775 in the same period in 2023. Espresso is one of the titles that reports its circulation to ABC twice a year: its average circulation across the whole of 2023 was 19,059.

Reach’s OK! and New! magazines meanwhile were among the biggest fallers in the year, both shedding more than a quarter of their circulation.

Other faster-than-average declines came at the New Scientist‘s digital edition (down 14% to 30,483), The Week‘s print edition (down 14.6% to 102,463) and Harper’s Bazaar (down 16.7% to 66,607).

Sajeeda Merali, the chief executive of the Professional Publishers Association (PPA), responded to the results with a blog post titled “Reasons to be cheerful: a sector defined by confidence, optimism and opportunity”, in which she argued that subscriptions, events and digital growth offer the way forward for publishers as print circulations dwindle.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
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  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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