The World: EMS survey provides welcome news for media

Research into the media habits of Europe's richest executives shows traditional media is still on their agenda.

International media has suffered some bad press over the past year.

Its audience's preference for BlackBerries over broadsheets and some brutal decision-making by US publishers has led to the closure of the international editions of Forbes and BusinessWeek; and caused Newsweek to slash its international edition's circulation and ad rates.

And yet the latest figures from the European Media & Marketing Survey of the continent's most affluent executives provide some welcome news for print, international media's largest sector.

In the core EMS survey, which monitors the media habits of the top 13 per cent of Europe's highest earners, only four of the 17 major titles surveyed gained readers in 2005 (ironically, one of them was the now defunct Forbes). But in EMS Select, which covers a more valuable group (Europe's wealthiest 3 per cent), five titles recorded reader gains. And crucially, two of them were the Financial Times and The Economist.

The FT, which recently reported an annual profit for the first time since 2001, saw its EMS Select readership rise by 48,000 readers, to 34.3 per cent of Europe's richest. At The Economist, meanwhile, readership grew by 1.3 per cent, to 22 per cent of Europe's C-suite.

"The two barometers of international media have created a bit of blue water for themselves," Jason Hayford, an international account director at Initiative, says. "This maybe a reflection of a fundamental change in the way Europeans see the wider world in which we do business: Europeans are now seeking European coverage of global business."

Olly Comyn, The Economist's director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, adds: "If it was a peaceful world, we probably would not be doing so well, and the stepping back of BusinessWeek and Forbes will have helped us a bit. That said, a booking in the international titles left will still reach 50 of the upscale audience advertisers want."

Elsewhere, there is comfort to be taken from a gradual ebb rather than a collapse of readerships. Reader's Digest, down 1.3 per cent, was the biggest faller in the main EMS survey, while Time lost the most EMS Select readers, down 1.7 per cent. "Some years are good, others aren't; Time has dropped back from an exceptional base in 2004,"Mike Jeans, the research director of Time and Fortune, says. "On the whole, as dull as it sounds, the sector is stable, which it has been since EMS began in 1995."

Discovery Channel and the National Geographic Channel were the strongest-performing TV brands, hinting at a growing appetite among business travellers for entertainment as well as news. "In a hotel room, you'll soon get bored of rolling news on the war on terror, and want some lighter relief," Hayford muses. Both channels recorded the biggest monthly and weekly viewership leaps in both surveys.

BBC World emerged as the fastest-growing news channel, while the dominance of the market leader, CNN, is showing signs of waning. BBC World, which has grown every year since EMS launched, added a 0.5 per cent share in both surveys. CNN lost 1.6 per cent of the EMS Select audience, but held firm in the broader survey.

"Getting distribution deals in new markets has helped us," Carolyn Gibson, BBC World's vice-president of sales in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the US, says. "But it's more to do with what's going out on the channel.

We have an infrastructure three times the size of CNN's, with 65 foreign bureaux and 2,500 journalists, and that does have an impact on what you see on screen."

The next EMS survey may see the addition of the monthly World Business, a collaboration between Haymarket and Insead, launched in April. "We welcome World Business," Comyn says, but warns: "A monthly business magazine is a tough thing to get right and, like all of us, it's competing for people's time. From a media planning point of view, it's a question of how far the budget will stretch, and when times get tough, the titles on the fringe always drop off the schedule."

TELEVISION (weekly viewing)
PETV channel % reach % growth % reach % growth
EMS vs EMS EMS vs EMS
2006 2005 Select Select
2006 2005
Eurosport 32.4 1.3 33.9 0.7
MTV 27.8 -0.1 27.9 0.3
Arte 24.9 0.3 22.1 -0.6
CNN International 19.2 0.2 25.3 -1.6
Discovery Channel 18.1 2.0 20.7 2.5
Euronews 17.8 0.9 19.6 0.2
Sky News 14.7 1.5 20.4 0.4
National Geographic 13.9 1.3 15.8 1.1
BBC World 11.9 0.5 16.2 0.5
CNBC 7.1 0.1 9.9 0.0
Travel Channel 6.7 0.4 7.6 0.6
Bloomberg TV 6.1 0.4 9.5 -0.1
Fashion TV 2.3 -0.4 2.2 -0.7
Deutsche Welle 1.7 0.0 2.2 0.0

Source: EMS/EMS Select 2006 by Interview-NSS.
EMS represents the top 13 per cent highest earners (universe is 40
million); EMS Select represents the top 3 per cent highest earners
(universe is 8 million) in 17 European countries.

PRINT (readership past 12 months)
Title % reach % growth % reach % growth
EMS vs EMS EMS vs EMS
2006 2005 Select Select
2006 2005
Time 17.3 -0.8 27.7 -1.7
Financial Times 16.5 -0.1 34.3 0.5
National Geographic (UK) 15.8 -0.5 22.8 0.9
Reader's Digest 15.3 -1.3 16.0 -1.6
Newsweek 12.6 -0.1 22.4 0.9
The Economist 10.8 -0.1 22.0 1.3
USA Today 8.0 0.0 16.0 -0.9
Intl Herald Tribune 7.9 0.4 14.8 -0.9
BusinessWeek 5.7 -0.4 13.4 -0.7
Wall Street Journal Europe 5.1 -0.2 11.3 -1.2
Scientific American 3.7 -0.3 5.7 -0.1
Fortune 3.2 0.2 7.7 -0.4
Forbes 3.1 0.2 6.8 -0.6
Harvard Business Review 2.9 -0.1 8.2 0.0
The Business 1.8 0.0 2.9 -0.7
Euromoney 1.4 -0.6 3.4 -0.6
Institutional Investor 1.1 -0.2 2.9 0.5

Source: EMS/EMS Select 2006 by Interview-NSS.
EMS represents the top 13 per cent highest earners (universe is 40
million); EMS Select represents the top 3 per cent highest earners
(universe is 8 million) in 17 European countries.

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