ABC Magazines: TV listings titles

There are a few things you can rely on in life. Rain at Wimbledon. IPC saying it had a great ABC period, no matter what the results, and the TV sector selling around five million magazines a week, every week.

This period's results are no different. However, inside this dependable old sector, something is brewing. TV Choice, H Bauer's budget-priced young upstart, is about to overtake its older, more expensive brother, IPC's What's On TV. This battle is especially fierce because the winner will hold the title of the highest-circulation paid-for title in the UK.

David Goodchild, the managing director of H Bauer, says: "There are many reasons people keep coming back to our magazines, but it comes down to the fact people plan their TV watching and want a knowledgeable, interesting magazine that can give them much more than programme times. And that's what we, as publishers, do, in all of the sub sectors."

What's On TV continues to lead the market, but with falling sales, and TV Choice has closed the gap to just 30,000 copies. However, Fiona Dent, the managing director of IPC tx, maintains that the publisher is not interested in the overall sales figures, but prefers to chase the retail sales value. What's On TV raised its coverprice in April by 1p to 43p, while TV Choice retails for 35p. Dent says: "That is our business model and it benefits the whole industry. The advertisers respond to this favourably as well."

Dent also cites TV Easy, the pocket-sized listings magazine IPC launched in 2005, as having brought new readers into the market. However, Goodchild counters that many of its readers are not new, but have moved from existing magazines, such as What's On TV.

Sitting out on its own, as usual, is Radio Times, one of the country's most profitable magazines, down only slightly period on period. However, Kathy Day, the publishing director, says: "Combine this enduring sales performance with a coverprice increase to £1 and our decision to increase the coverage of digital to two extra pages a day makes it the ultimate guide to digital TV."

IPC's TV & Satellite Week and H Bauer's Total TV Guide might disagree with that claim - especially as there is a strong feeling that this sub sector could become extremely profitable with the continued proliferation of digital TV.

Liz Watkins, the publishing director at H Bauer, says: "This is a fantastic result in a premium market that has enormous potential to grow as digital TV becomes a necessity and not a luxury."

Soap titles are still shining brightly, as the UK's hunger for news about soap operas seems to be completely insatiable. Hachette Filipacchi's Inside Soap, still the leader in the sector, posted a strong increase across the period, while the fortnightly All About Soap and IPC's Soaplife both increased their sales.

Grace Stewart, the group publisher of soap titles at Hachette, says: "This is Inside Soap's highest circulation and sixth consecutive ABC increase since moving to a weekly frequency."

Verdict Despite some ups and downs and a developing battle for the number-one spot, the market continues to be generally stable. However, look out for some change in the top sellers as the digital magazines begin to put on extra readers if the rest don't embrace digital TV to its fullest.

on-period on-year
% change % change
What's On TV IPC 1,422,486 -1.1 -5.8
TV Choice H Bauer 1,391,774 2.8 8.1
Radio Times BBC Magazines 1,046,601 -3.3 -2.2
TV Times IPC 353,014 -6.5 -5.3
TV Easy IPC 284,867 -2.9 -5.5
TV Quick H Bauer 224,799 -8.7 -14.3
TV & Satellite Week IPC 201,532 -2.8 -4.9
Inside Soap Hachette Filipacchi 198,852 5.1 8.4
Total TV Guide H Bauer 112,534 2.8 11.1
Soaplife IPC 109,427 12.2 18.2
All About Soap Hachette Filipacchi 87,619 12.2 17.1