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August 11, 2016

Magazine ABCs: Private Eye print sales rise to 30-year-high as Economist reports 1.5m global circulation

By Dominic Ponsford

Private Eye has maintained its place as the best selling UK current affairs magazine with sales slightly up year on year.

Its average sale grew 0.8 per cent year on year in the first half of 2016 to 230,099 a fortnight – its highest circulation since 1986.

Editor Ian Hislop said: “It’s amazing… 30 years ago we had a Conservative female Prime Minister, the Labour party was in a mess and we had a TV star who ended up as the US President – how times have changed.”

The UK edition of The Economist claimed combined print and digital circulation up 3.7 per cent year on year to 236,342. The Economist has reduced its reliance on free distribution and now has 95.1 per cent paid-for sales.

The Economist’s paid-for circulation in the period stood at 224,761. Digital editions made up 76,101 of its weekly magazine sales, up 7.3 per cent year on year.

Worldwide, The Economist claims print and digital circulation of 1,459,929. Globally, the title says it has dropped 100,000 free copies from its weekly circulation.

The global total is not the title’s biggest ever gross total, but it is the highest paid-for figure.

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Chief marketing officer Michael Brunt said: “This impressive growth in paid subscriptions demonstrates that demand for quality journalism is on the rise in a world overshadowed by low-quality free content.

“The Economist remains at the forefront of this trend by consistently creating and distributing trusted insight and analysis to a globally curious audience.”

Brunt told Press Gazette that around a quarter of new subscribers to The Economist choose a digital-only subscription, a quarter choose print-only and a quarter choose a print and digital bundle. The print and digital-only subscriptions cost the same amount.

He said The Economist has doubled the profitability of its circulation business over the last four years.

Both The Week and Spectator also benefit from strong digital edition sales of 38,000 and 19,000 respectively.

UK current affairs magazine circulations in first half 2016, source ABC

Figures are combined print and digital circulation, percentage year on year change and percentage of UK and Ireland circulation actively-purchased

Title Total YoY% UK ROI AP%
The Economist –  United Kingdom Edition 236,342 3.7 95.1
Private Eye 230,099 0.8 99.9
The Week 204,197 0.7 77.9
The Spectator excluding Australia 76,750 37.9 87
Monocle 76,180 -5 93.2
The Oldie 46,421 0.6 97
MoneyWeek 45,239 -5.7 98.9
Prospect 32,475 3.3 62.9
Investors Chronicle 30,324 -6.1 99.8
The Spectator Australia 7,875 -4.4 N/A

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