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January 10, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 10:54am

Hearst closes Real People magazine after 16 years

By Charlotte Tobitt

Hearst UK is closing Real People magazine after 16 years.

The weekly magazine, which reports on “true life stories that will leave you moved, amused, shocked, infuriated and horrified”, will print its final issue on 20 January.

Its small team will be relocated within Hearst where possible, the company said.

It comes just over six months after Hearst revealed plans to make a fifth of its UK staff redundant and closed Town & Country UK magazine.

Hearst’s other UK titles include Cosmopolitan, Elle, Red, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, Prima, Men’s Health and Women’s Health.

Simon Horne, Hearst UK interim chief executive and president of Hearst Europe, said in a statement: “As we continue to invest in and produce the highest-quality content on all platforms, we’re also making decisions – sometimes difficult ones – to position the business for future growth. After careful consideration, we have decided to propose closing Real People with the final issue going on sale 20 January 2022.

“We would like to thank Karen Bryans, editor, and the talented team working on Real People for all their hard work and commitment. We have now entered a period of consultation with the small number of people affected. We will ensure they are supported with great care throughout the process, and work with them to look for suitable opportunities within the business where possible.”

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A spokesperson declined to comment further on the number of staff affected.

In 2020, the latest ABC figures available, Real People had an average circulation of 84,934, a decline of 14% year-on-year. Some 83,176 of overall sales were newsstand sales and 1,758 were subscriptions.

In 2020 Real People sat roughly in the middle of the pack among women’s weeklies, landing just below Future’s Woman’s Own (ABC total, 95,524) and above Reach’s Ok! (84,320). Scroll down for a full ranking of the market (2021 figures are due to be released next month).

According to its media pack, Real People’s core demographic was women aged between 25 and 44. It billed itself as the best value read for “busy young mums and working women”.

Real People launched in January 2006 under ACP-NatMag, a joint venture by NatMag (Hearst’s former guise) and Australian publisher ACP, to meet what executives felt was a demand from 8m dissatisfied ‘true-life’ fans.

NatMag took full control of the title, along with Best and Reveal, two years later. Celebrity magazine Reveal closed in 2018 following a drastic circulation collapse, but Best – billed as a celeb title for “smarter women” aged between 45 and 64 – is still going.

Hearst staff were told last May that, although the company was in a strong position, it needed to transform into a more modern organisation and invest in growth areas – mainly digital advertising, e-commerce and print subscriptions – because of the way the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated consumer trends.

2020 women’s weekly market:

Publication Publisher 2020 ABC average per issue Paid single copies Paid subscriptions Free copies
Take a Break Bauer Media 369,449 369,449
Woman’s Weekly Future Publishing Ltd 205,091 171,269 33,822
That’s Life Bauer Media 156,454 156,454
The People’s Friend DC Thomson Media 150,704 110,606 39,719 379
Chat Future Publishing Ltd 150,288 147,042 3,246
Bella Bauer Media 141,758 133,640 6,143 1,975
Closer Bauer Media 106,308 91,286 10,406 4,616
Woman Future Publishing Ltd 103,323 98,809 4,514
New! Reach Magazines Publishing plc 96,561 88,144 3,471 4,946
Woman’s Own Future Publishing Ltd 95,524 89,961 5,563
Real People Hearst UK 84,934 83,176 1,758
OK! Magazine Reach Magazines Publishing plc 84,320 73,178 11,142
Best Hearst UK 84,130 79,189 4,941
My Weekly DC Thomson Media 74,927 62,408 11,088 1,431
Heat Bauer Media 73,455 56,596 11,527 5,332
Love It! ACH Publishing 69,320 69,320
Pick Me Up Future Publishing Ltd 63,877 63,877
The Lady The Lady 22,007 7,622 12,723 1,662

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