Media: Double Standards - The maps showing 'TV treasure hunters' the way

Two industry figures explain that, with more and more channels being launched, millions of readers are still turning to TV weeklies for guidance.

FIONA DENT MANAGING DIRECTOR, IPC TX

- How would you describe the TV weeklies market right now?

It's the UK's second-biggest magazine sector, and IPC TX leads it. In spite of the growth of free TV information sources and digital media, this sector has been selling more than five million copies for well over a decade.

- What is fuelling continued sales of around five million in the sector?

This audience are "TV treasure hunters". With more channels than ever before, readers want to be taken straight to the pearls of the TV schedules. They see TV weeklies as the trusted experts. IPC TX recently launched The Street, a qualitative research project which closely follows the lives of 12 TV weeklies households. It showed TV magazines deliver unrivalled editorial content tailored to readers' tastes, unparalleled access to their favourite actors and well-designed, accurate programme guides.

- IPC's recent research gives some insight into the TV weekly reader. Do readers of your magazine tend to have common traits/behaviours?

The Street shows that not only are TV weeklies readers TV fans, but that they also lead busy, active lives, with TV being only one of their many leisure choices. Family time is important, as are strong values of education, hard work and creating a better life for the next generation. These are female-led homes where the woman makes the majority of the household's financial and purchasing decisions - as well as juggling work, childcare and housework.

- Why is your audience valuable to advertisers?

For TV weeklies readers, brands symbolise an emotional investment in giving their families the best; and advertising is an important part of building strong bonds with their favourite brands. These readers are extremely valuable to advertisers, as they are high-spending and frequent consumers. Importantly, they are also extremely difficult to reach through other print media, with 67 per cent not reading a mid or tabloid daily newspaper, and 69 per cent not consuming a women's weekly magazine.

- Do you foresee further coverprice rises in parts of the sector?

IPC TX's strategy is to get close to our readers and invest in editorial innovation, which enables us to command higher coverprices. For example, What's On TV commands a 23 per cent premium over its nearest rival. Crucially for advertisers, this strategy attracts readers who are prepared to pay a higher price for quality.

- What has been the most innovative product you have launched in the TV weekly market?

There's The Street, a first in the TV weeklies sector, which gives us unrivalled insight into our audiences' lives. Then there's the launch of whatsontv.co.uk this year, which is already reaching 250,000 users. And I have to mention TV Easy, the first-ever compact-sized TV guide, an original product attracting new and younger readers to the sector.

- How do you plan to bring new readers into the market?

The launch of whatsontv.co.uk is a brilliant example of bringing a new, younger audience to the What's On TV brand, while giving existing consumers additional content, with breaking news, clips and games. We have recently launched a number of new mobile services, so What's On TV is a truly multiplatform brand with a greater reach than ever. Innovation is at our core, so watch this space.

- Which programme makes for a great night in front of the TV for you?

Back-to-back episodes of Dragons' Den would be good! I feed the addiction by watching clips online in between shows.

GILL HUDSON EDITOR, RADIO TIMES

- How would you describe the TV weeklies market right now?

Extremely healthy, with the three top-selling magazines in the UK coming from our sector. We're actually selling more copies today than we were 15 years ago.

- What is fuelling continued sales of around five million in the sector?

TV remains part of the great social glue that helps bond us all together, and with so much choice, the need for guidance has never been greater. That's when you turn to a brand you trust. What's more, with ever-more fragmented viewing, Radio Times increasingly plays a role in creating communities around favourite programmes.

- IPC's recent research gives some insight into the TV weekly reader. Do readers of your magazine tend to have common traits/behaviours?

I'd certainly reinforce one of its main findings: Radio Times readers are "TV treasure hunters"; ours is not the world of the couch potato! Ironically, Radio Times readers are "light viewers". They use TV to increase their insight into the world, and Radio Times is the filter that helps them do that.

- Why is your audience valuable to advertisers?

Simple: it's quality with quantity. We offer an upmarket audience - 74 per cent ABC1 - in high numbers. Our real competitors are the supplements and reviews of the mid-market and the quality national press titles. And since 50 per cent of Radio Times readers don't read one of these titles, advertising in Radio Times means clients really boost their coverage with us. We also take a huge amount of care to position ads within the most complementary content.

- Do you foresee further coverprice rises in parts of the sector?

Yes. We all want to increase profit margins, as well as increase value to our retailers. But good value for readers is key, which is why Radio Times' last coverprice rise coincided with our listings being expanded by two pages per day.

- What has been the most innovative product you have launched in the TV weekly market?

Aside from creating the listings market 83 years ago? We launched radiotimes.com in 1997 - way ahead of the pack. I'm really proud the site continues to offer significantly more functionality than all of the late arrivals.

- How do you plan to bring new readers into the market?

We were told that our days were over when the market deregulated in 1991, so selling more than a million copies week in, week out, ain't bad. The magazine is constantly evolving to service a fast-changing market, and offers the best navigation and guidance in the business. New readers tend to come to the magazine as they enter a new life stage - having children is a classic Radio Times-uptake moment. But our website also brings in a younger audience, and with our Freeview EPG, we've got the key bases covered.

- Which programme makes for a great night in front of the TV for you?

Heroes: it's slick, fabulously inventive and taps into my if-only-I-had-superpowers-too fantasies. My teenage daughter informs me that Milo Ventimiglia, as nurse Peter Petrelli, is the pin-up du jour among the girls at school, but they bemoan the age gap (he's 30). I share their pain.