ABC Report: TV Listings Titles

Readers' demand for gossip is keeping some titles going in the face of stiff competition. TV listings titles have declined in the face of strong competition from newspapers, the internet and electronic programming guides.

However, nearly 5.5 million copies are still sold every week. The three main players battling it out at the top, IPC's What's on TV, BBC Magazines' Radio Times and H Bauer's TV Choice, command the lion's share of the market.

H Bauer also publishes TV Quick and Total TV Guide, which posted its first ABC of 103,560. This was on target, according to Julie Lavington, the publishing director of Bauer's TV titles. She claims that H Bauer now has a 32 per cent market share.

"All three publishers in this market do a fantastic job considering that TV listings are available everywhere, and especially when newspapers are constantly revamping their supplements," Lavington says.

As well as the market-leading What's on TV, IPC publishes TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and Soaplife. Philippa Brown, the managing director of IPC tx, is pleased with the performance of the titles, with the exception of TV Times, which she describes as "disappointing".

The title is being refreshed, she reveals.

Yet TV Times and Radio Times have done well considering the pressures they are facing, according to Sanjay Shabi, a board director at MediaCom.

He says: "Whether it's gardening, health or food on the cover of Radio Times, the magazine leverages the strong, authoritative personalities on the box."

Shabi says of the leading titles: "They have reinvented themselves to provide celebrity gossip for which people have an insatiable appetite."

Thirst for soap gossip, too, is seemingly unquenchable. The three dedicated soap titles all increased their frequency last year. This explains an apparently disappointing performance in the ABCs because increased frequency has led to smaller circulations per issue. However, the overall performance of all titles is stronger.

Grace Stewart, the publisher of Inside Soap and All About Soap at Hachette, says: "The soap market is selling 52 per cent more magazines than this time last year."

Verdict TV titles can rely on a hardcore of five million readers. Yet, because of the intense competition in this sector, constant rejuvenation is key to maintaining market share.


TITLE PUBLISHER Total ABC Period- Yr-on-yr

on-period % change

% change

What's on TV IPC 1,635,023 -1.20 -3.20

Radio Times BBC Magazines 1,104,767 -4.60 -4.80

TV Choice H Bauer 1,082,654 6.40 11.90

TV Times IPC 473,379 -9.70 -10.60

TV Quick H Bauer 354,620 -5.60 -10.10

TV & Satellite Week IPC 222,510 -0.70 -12.60

Inside Soap Hachette Filipacchi 182,161 -9.20 -26.50

Total TV Guide H Bauer 103,560 n/a n/a

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