Weekly magazines lead the ABCs figures

Skinnier, perkier, cheaper and faster — it could almost be a selection of words from the coverlines of any weekly real-life or celebrity title, or the reasons why weekly magazines lead the ABCs figures for January-June 2006.

It was a case of déjà vu for many this period as weekly celebrity intrigue and real-life shockers continued to shift mags from the shelves. Closer took the top spot in the celeb weeklies sector while Emap stablemate Heat retained the edge over Northern & Shell's OK!

In real life, new entrants into the market, News International's Love it! and Natmags' Real People, stirred things up, hitting their launch targets and stealing readers from the established titles.

The combined women's weekly sectors sold almost 10 million copies a week in the six months to June, up 6.6 per cent year on year, proving readers' addiction to real life and celebrity soap operas continues unabated.

Others have been tempted into the celebrity gossip bubble. Emap's news weekly for women, First, yet to publish an ABC figure, has been drawn into gawking at Posh Spice in a bikini on its cover.

Bauer's TV listings title TV Quick is to be relaunched with increased emphasis on celeb tittletattle.

News International hopes to follow the success of Love it! with another women's weekly, and Bauer has just released details of its first women's weekly in 11 years, In The Know, which eschews ‘She's So Skinny' coverlines for hard-news features told in a classic women's weekly style.

Elsewhere in the weeklies, IPC and Bauer fought it out with their budget TV listings titles for the number one spot, and the current affairs sector continued to enjoy healthy sales.

But it was monthly magazines that were most shaken up by the ABCs, which are rapidly turning into a biannual sounding of the death knell for the 30-day fix.

In the men's market, once genre-defining titles such as IPC's Loaded, Emap's FHM and Dennis's Maxim each lost approximately a quarter of their sales. Niche interest magazines came off best, suggesting that if gains in the sector are to be made, they may come from narrowing a magazine's focus and lowering its circulation expectations as Natmags' Men's Health, Haymarket's Stuff, BBC's Top Gear and Focus experienced the biggest jumps in sales.

In the women's monthlies sector, the most significant gains came in the older end of the market as Condé Nast's Easy Living, Haymarket's Eve and Hachette's Red all saw increases in circulation, which suggests the late 30-something market is one to watch while the younger heavyweights such as Condé Nast's Glamour and Natmags' Cosmo both suffered a fall in sales.

Here too, more niche, specialist titles prospered: Condé Nast's Vogue proved itself impervious to the fashion of falling sales by rising figures in this, its 90th year, and Hachette's Psychologies made it past the 100,000 sales mark in its first year of publishing.

Emap's Grazia was up again, but was the rise in sales significant enough to tempt other publishers into the weekly glossy market?

Moves are already under way for some radical rethinking in the monthlies as both Marie Claire and FHM announce significant overhauls with magazines keen to find their point of difference.

On ABC day last Thursday, IPC announced it had its biggest ever launch planned for 2007, but refused to give any more details. But it is expected — as with all the big deals at present — it will be done in the seven-day sector.

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