Some of the best minds in magazines continue to insist that new
media has not yet had any negative effect on their business. But last
week’s ABCs might suggest otherwise.
Look, for starters, at the football weeklies market. The one-time
circulation powerhouses Match and Shoot both lost ground, the latter
falling a worrying 29.5 per cent over the year. These magazines are
traditionally aimed at boys under 15. This group is growing up with the
net and considers it a natural place to turn for information. It is hard
to believe that the proliferation of football sites has not played its
part in the demise of Shoot and Match.
Then there is the weekly music magazines market, with bad news for NME
and Melody Maker. Some will blame their slide on the decline of the
seven-inch or CD single, others will point out that rock music - the
traditional mainstay of their editorial - has lost out to dance and hip
hop. But with MP3 sites challenging porn sites as the most popular on
the web, it is clear that plenty of music fans are turning to the net to
download their favourite tunes - and presumably that means some of them
will get their news and reviews online too. The way things look at the
moment, Melody Maker could find itself abandoning the presses in favour
of an online existence.
And then there’s the teen market. Total sales of teenage girls’
magazines fell more than 10 per cent last year. These magazines are
battling for attention against a huge variety of media, especially TV,
and it is a crowded market. But they have flourished alongside TV up
until now - perhaps this dramatic decline in circulation mirrors the
online boom. I hope not, but it is impossible not to see a connection.