ABC FIGURES: TV listings titles figures see small period-on-period fall

A mixed bag of results across all the titles in the TV listings sector conspired to produce a relatively flat year, compared with the decreases experienced in the previous ABC results.

Period on period, the market was down just 0.5 per cent, while the year-on-year figure revealed a 1.6 per cent reverse.

IPC's What's On TV remained the clear market leader at 1,630,850, despite losing more than two percentage points over the period.

Despite the magazine's year-on-year percentage also being down - by 1.3 per cent - Caroline Ward, the managing director of IPC TX, said she was pleased with the results, adding that early sales figures for 2003 have been encouraging.

At BBC Worldwide, Gill Hudson's arrival as the editor of Radio Times seems to have resulted in content that has stemmed the decline in circulation.

Hudson joined Radio Times last June and period-on-period figures show the magazine has grown by 0.5 per cent. It now has nearly 600,000 more readers than its IPC rival, TV Times.

In an attempt to attract more readers, Hudson has given more prominence to multi-channel listings and attempted to make the magazine more family friendly. A spokesman for the Radio Times said the results vindicated the changes introduced by Hudson, claiming it proved they had been made without alienating existing readers.

IPC's Soaplife experi-enced impressive double-digit growth period on period, albeit from a small base. This seems to have been at the expense of Hachette's All About Soap, which fell 9 per cent year on year, and now lies perilously close to falling below 100,000.

H Bauer's low-price positioning for TV Choice continued to boost its circulation, pushing the 40p title past the 900,000 mark. However, falling market share at its sister title TV Quick should give rise to some concern - consumers appear to be confused whether it is a TV listings guide or a celebrity magazine.

Verdict The TV listings sector appears to have temporarily fended off challenges from both newspapers and digital television's electronic programme guides. Additionally, TV Choice has proved once again that there will always be a place for a magazine with a cheap cover price. The biggest challenge seems to be in the mid-market section, as shown by the losses at TV Quick and TV Times.

TV LISTINGS MAGAZINES

Title Publisher Total ABC Period on Year on

period % year %

What's on TV IPC 1,630,850 -2.1 -1.3

Radio Times BBC 1,160,436 0.5 -3.3

TV Choice H Bauer 902,954 4.8 15.3

TV Times IPC 566,855 -0.7 -9.6

TV Quick H Bauer 417,618 -5.1 -13.6

TV & Sat Week IPC 247, 507 -1.8 0.3

Inside Soap Hachette 237,242 -6.1 -3.5

Soaplife IPC 114,965 11.9 -2.7

All About Soap Hachette 101,420 -2.7 -9

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations (July-December 2002).