Industry News

ABC Results from December end 2020 Release: View From the Top

By Jess Browne-Swinburne

11 Feb 2021

Senior executives from some of the UK's leading publishers respond to the ABC Consumer Magazines Report for the December end 2020 release.

Tom Bureau, CEO, Immediate Media Co

“These results demonstrate the enduring appeal of Immediate’s brands, both in print and digital. Our special interest brands, in these extraordinary times, have become more important than ever to our audiences, helping them get the most out of their passions and hobbies, whether that be cooking, gardening, cycling or watching the latest streaming sensation. In the last year we have grown our paid and premium reach across all platforms, a testament to our commitment to consistently deliver world class content and create a platform for further growth.”

Angela O'Farrell, Chief Content Officer, Future

“The results show that Future’s brands and content continue to delight our audiences and help connect them with their passions. We are celebrating great overall results across our portfolio, with subscription and digital growth driving an excellent set of numbers and demonstrating that — even in the midst of a pandemic — our customers still seek out our brands.”

“These figures are a direct reflection of the dramatic shift in wider consumer behaviour and shopping patterns over the last 12 months which Future was well placed to lean into. As pandemic restrictions reduced opportunities for outdoor activities, audiences have increasingly turned to titles that help them make the most of their indoor spaces; be that through home improvement, cooking and decorating, or simply relaxing with engaging lifestyle content. In recognition of the shift towards staying local, we identified key sources of demand and closely tracked central points of purchase, such as local supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores, so that our brands were never out of reach of our audiences.”

James Wildman, CEO, Hearst UK

“We are pleased to have seen a number of our brands post a robust set of figures in spite of these unprecedented times, but our business has no doubt felt the impact that Covid-19 has had on our routes to market. Whilst we continue to be encouraged by the significant increases in our magazine subscriptions and digital editions, as well as seeing newsstand trends recovering, we have particularly been affected by our dynamic distribution channels and through travel point sales. This is something which we had anticipated and were prepared for.

“I continue to be exceptionally proud of the way our business has tackled the current climate and the large number of successes we recorded throughout 2020. Digitally, unique users to Hearst UK sites were up 22% year-on-year as our audiences turned to us for positive, trusted and life-affirming content. We also saw e-commerce revenues increase materially, launched many initiatives designed to super-serve the needs of our valuable clients and successfully pivoted from large-scale live events to virtual iterations.

“As a truly diversified, modern media business, we remain resolutely focused on building loyal audiences and delivering premium content wherever they are in order to help them get more out of life.”

Chris Duncan, CEO, Bauer Media UK

“These ABC results cover a period of extraordinary disruption for readers and retailers across the UK, during which we have worked tirelessly to produce and distribute great products. Across the Bauer Media UK audited range to have one in five of our titles in year on year growth and the overall portfolio in only single digit decline is something we should be very proud of. We thank our readers for their extra efforts this year to get their hands on our titles despite the restrictions and hope we have played our part in keeping the nation entertained and inspired during this period. We look forward to a strong 2021 performance in all sectors as we get back to normal trading.”

James Tye, CEO, Dennis Publishing

“Our strategy is a simple one: create content that really matters to people. Whether it is providing an open and balanced view of the news agenda, helping people grow and protect their wealth, fuelling their passions or simply helping them to do their job better, what we do is valued by our readers.

“Dennis has been a subscription business for many years and continues to place forming a direct relationship with our customers right at the center of our business model. Our fundamental subscriptions strength has allowed us to grow and maintain circulations during the past 12 months and as such we have declined to take the ABC Covid Exemption Certificate in order to provide full transparency.”

Sue Todd, CEO, Magnetic Media

"Today’s ABC figures for magazine brands are a reflection of the value and strength of a trusted medium. Whilst the challenges of a restricted newsstand and limited distribution channels is reflected in the headline numbers, beneath lies a more nuanced and positive story that’s important for advertisers. Publishers have adapted their content, distribution and pricing models and found new ways to monetise the highly engaged, attentive readers that have turned to magazine content during the pandemic.

"The booming subscription economy has been a growth area for magazines, with the entire market up 13% yoy. Consumers have turned to magazines for inspiration around food, fitness, gardening and even support for home schooling. This is good news for advertisers as research indicates these loyal and committed readers are more likely to respond to reviews and advertising content, but also for publishers, as it enhances the opportunity for more direct to consumer relationships.

"The data proves that in turbulent times, consumers will turn to trustworthy and reliable content for entertainment and escape. This is reflected in some strong areas of growth in actively purchased magazines, the record surge in digital editions and the huge range of magazines brands that have benefited from the increases in demand for our favourite entertaining content at our fingertips."

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