ABC Report: Teen Magazines

The fortunes of individual magazines can fluctuate wildly according to covermounts, Lucy Aitken says. Sugar still dominates the teenage lifestyle sector, although Emap's Bliss and Cosmo Girl! from The National Magazine Company are closing the gap, with circulation increases of 6.4 and 0.9 per cent respectively.

However, IPC's Mizz has lost more than 30 per cent of its circulation year on year.

In the wake of the closure of Emap's J17, BBC Magazines' Dare and IPC's 19 earlier this year, there could be more closures on the cards.

Lysanne Currie, the editorial director of teen magazines at Hachette Filipacchi, the publisher of Sugar, says: "It's a challenging time for teen titles at the moment. Teens are fickle, but they are changing particularly fast at the moment. There's so much that grabs their attention, so we might see more shake-out."

Referring to the teenage entertainment sector, Alfie Lewis, the publisher of teen titles at BBC Magazines, is more blunt: "It wouldn't surprise me if there were two or three more magazines that get out of the market."

Lewis, who publishes Top of The Pops and It's Hot, describes the pressure facing publishers: "Sales are so volatile because every month the most successful title is the one offering the best package and value."

When it comes to cover stars, the boy band Busted is a big crowd-pleaser in terms of shifting magazines, with competition from newcomers McFly.

Covermounts also play a vital role in this sector, with fluctuations in sales from issue to issue being a noticeable feature. Marcus Rich, the managing director at Emap Performance, which publishes Smash Hits and Sneak, says: "We had phenomenal sales when we cover-mounted a little radio. Nine- to 11-year-old girls were Tippexing them white and pretending they were iPods."

Verdict Publishers in the sector agree that the major challenge lies in penetrating the multitude of media now available to teenagers. Digital TV, mobile phones and the internet have all squeezed the time that teenagers used to have for magazines.

More casualties in the sector cannot be ruled out.

TEENS

TITLE PUBLISHER Total ABC Period- Yr-on-yr

on-period % change

% change

Sugar Hachette Filipacchi 295,009 1.10 -9.60

More! Emap 257,897 -0.60 2.80

Bliss Emap 257,162 6.40 2.60

Top of the Pops BBC Magazines 216,954 -5.90 -14.00

Cosmo Girl! NatMags 200,168 0.90 6.30

Smash Hits Emap Performance 120,701 5.50 -19.60

TV Hits Hachette Filipacchi 100,377 -22.90 -30.20

Sneak Emap Performance 92,368 -11.30 -7.70

It's Hot BBC Magazines 91,495 -25.30 -20.60

Mizz IPC 78,158 -22.10 -31.50

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations, January-June 2004.

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