2012: Good year for magazines

Women's lifestyle and gossip magazines and glossies about fishing, cars and rugby were the darlings of the magazine racks last year.

The Magazine Publishers Association has declared 2012 a good year for magazines, despite readership bleeding from some well-known titles.

Nielsen's Consumer and Media Insights survey recorded what Nielsen considers statistically significant readership changes for 30 magazines, of which 21 grew.

Australian Women's Weekly - one of New Zealand's most popular titles - grew nine per cent between late January and mid-December. NZ Geographic grew 18 per cent, while Mindfood was up 17 per cent.

Some well-known titles fell.

Publisher APN's weekly news magazine the Listener lost ten per cent of its readership and TV Guide lost nine per cent. Next lost 18 per cent, according to Nielsen.

Among the gainers, there were some distinct themes. NZ Fishing World and Hunting and Fishing each grew, as did NZ Rugby World, Motorcycle Trader, NZ Autocar, NZ Performance Car and NZ Trucking.

Home NZ, Homestyle magazine and Recipes + grew.

Readership of other major titles - including New Idea, NZ House and Garden, Cuisine, Healthy Food Guide, Woman's Day, Metro, North and South and NZ Woman's Weekly - appeared static or recorded small changes, which Nielsen considered insignificant or within the realm of a sampling error.

MPA commercial director Katrina Horton said readers had proved loyal to many of the most popular magazines, with some of the mass-market women's titles experiencing big lifts.

"We do see cyclical behaviour happening. A couple of years ago all the food titles were going nuts on the back of the Masterchef trend and then more recently we've seen a resurgence in the home titles on the back of the Block."

Horton said the direct advertising market had been "pretty flat".

"Agencies are struggling and that seems to be across the board, not just in magazines. We are seeing some publishers having a better time than others."

A shortcoming of the advertising figures was that activity on a magazine's website and tablet editions did not necessarily show up in the print figures, said Horton.

"As different revenue streams come into play the numbers aren't being reported. For example if Cuisine's website is being advertised on, it gets recorded as digital activity although it is owned by a magazine brand. It makes it look like we're not moving forward," she said.

The MPA said home, garden and entertaining was the most read magazine category and women's lifestyle titles experienced the largest increase, up 11 per cent year on year.

People lingered slightly longer over their glossies, with primary readers - the people who actually purchased magazines rather than reading hand-me-ons - spending an extra four minutes in 2012 perusing each copy - 75.5 minutes.

The MPA says New Zealanders spent approximately $105 million on 29 million magazines at the supermarket in the past year, with the average reader (including second-hand readers) reading each magazine for 44 minutes and picking it up an average 3.4 times.

The number of people aged ten or older who read a magazine in the previous year rose to 3.6 million in 2012 from 3.57 million in 2011, says Nielsen.