- For the second consecutive ABC period Northern & Shell's celebrity gossip magazine, OK!, has come to the rescue of a steadily declining women's weeklies market.
Up a staggering 93 per cent year on year, although only three per cent up on last period, the title's new ABC of 413,148 puts it just over 80,000 copies behind rival Hello, which lost sales marginally both period on period and year on year.
IPC, the sector's continued leader in both volume and value terms, has produced year on year ABC increases for two out of its six titles, Now and Chat, and long-sought-after stability for Woman.
Linda Lancaster-Gaye, IPC Connect's managing director, said that new products were in the pipeline and denied that the women's weekly sector was in terminal decline. "The celebrity sector is the best example of new readers coming into the market; a 25 per cent uplift across the three celebrity titles is a powerful endorsement of the weekly frequency."
IPC is supporting its weekly magazines by developing new ancillary brand spin-offs such as Chat's Moral Dilemmas, a daily masthead show beginning on September 1 on Flextech's Living channel; a "micro website" for Woman's Own commencing this autumn; and 34 branded specials scheduled for 2000.
Lancaster-Gaye defended the continued existence of the sector's weakest title, Woman's Realm, which was hit by an 18 per cent year on year and 7.5 per cent period on period circulation fall. "Realm is profitable and delivering good revenue, and, although it doesn't have such big sales, it's performing a function so it survives" she commented.
VERDICT: Without the celebrity weeklies the market would be struggling, but with over 400 million copies sold per annum this market still accounts for 30 per cent of all magazine sales, so not one to write off just yet.