NRS Reveals ABC1 Print and Online Readership of the UK's Leading Magazines and Newspapers
The NRS figures that land on our desks at this time of year always provoke much interest in the Cream Offices. It's interesting to compare readership trends with the circulation trends revealed by the half yearly ABCs, and the NRS figures also allow us to look specifically at ABC1 readership figures - the audience of most interest to our clients.However, the rolling annual readership figures released this quarter are of even more interest because for the first time online readership, as provided by ComScore, has been combined with print readership to calculate an overall reach for each title. And we can look at specific reach amongst ABC1s online too. It's been a gap that the NRS has had to fill for some time, although we still don't have the full picture. We won't have that until mobile edition readerships - both smartphone and tablet - are added into the mix.Here's a brief summary of each of 3 key sectors - women's magazines, men's magazines and newspapers. All figures compare July '12 to June '13 with the same period last year, July '11 to June '12.Women's MagazinesFor women's monthly, it was a similar gloomy picture to that painted in the recent circulation figures - consistent falls amongst ABC1 print readers were the norm and perhaps sharper than witnessed in the recent ABCs. So it was no surprise to see titles like Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and Company losing 20% or more of their ABC1 print readers. However, Glamour (-6%), Vogue (-5%) and Marie Claire (-3%) fared much better, and Elle even managed to grow their ABC1 readership, albeit by just over 1%.It also should be noted that the monthly titles fall into a different ranking when ABC1 readership is concerned. So Glamour, the overall circulation leader, is only number 4 in the ABC1 readership stakes, and is headed by Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and Vogue.For women' weeklies, the only bright spot was Grazia which saw a negligible fall in print ABC1 readership. The celebrity gossip titles like OK!, Hello and Heat all saw catastrophic falls of around 30% - a clear sign of the continuing trend to access this sort of tittle tattle online, particularly via the Mail Online's 'sidebar of shame.'Looking at the online ABC1 readerships, it’s clear that Glamour and Marie Claire have done excellent jobs - boosting their overall reach amongst ABC1s by c40% as a result of their online efforts. Vogue and Elle, perhaps surprisingly, haven't been as effective with online reach less than 20% of their print reach.None of the weekly women's titles has made any significant inroads in extending their print readership online.Men's MagazinesThe story in the men's magazine sector is less dramatic and the small falls in readership largely reflected falls in circulation. Men's Health saw the sharpest decline in ABC1 print readership (-14%) but it's still by far the biggest hitter in terms of delivering ABC1 readers, ahead of FHM, Men's Fitness, GQ and Esquire.Men's Health is also performing well online - growing its overall reach by 36% as a result of its website. This contrasted with the surprisingly poor performance of GQ's website, which only grew overall the print reach by 17% despite significant investment.NewspapersThe tale for daily newspapers is mixed. All mid and quality titles have seen a fall in ABC1 readership in the past 12 months, but some have fared much worse than others. The Mail, i and Telegraph have held on to their readerships better than most - losing 1%, 4% and 5% of readers respectively. The free dailies, Metro and the London Evening Standard, also suffered only negligible falls. In contrast, the Express (-15%), Guardian (-17%) and Independent (-29%) have suffered seen sharp losses in readers.The situation for the Sundays is similar, with the Mail and Telegraph both suffering small, sub 5% falls in their ABC1 readerships and the Sunday Times even posting a small rise. The big losers were the Sunday Express (-23%) and the Independent on Sunday (-19%).However, these print readership falls have differing impacts when you look at the bigger picture for print and online readership. For the Express and the Independent, the sharp falls are worse news as online readers lag well behind their print readership. The Guardian, however, boasts 985,000 online ABC1 readers, more than their print readership - the only quality publication for which this is the case - and, as a result, has a combined daily ABC1 reach (1,793,000) second only to the Mail (4,116,000) and ahead of the Daily Telegraph (1,770,000).OverallThe tale of the readerships is similar to the tale of the circulations - print publications are in decline. Publishers are responding by trying to leverage the power of their brands online to build reach and engagement and the new online readership figures from NRS have given us a snapshot as to how they're doing. However, as yet we have no insight into online readership trends - we'll have to wait until the next set of figures are released in 3 months time to understand whether publishers' online efforts are moving them in the right direction.