For the past couple of years, the H Bauer title has been breathing down the neck of its IPC rival as its sales crept ever-so-slowly upwards, while its competitor's sales fell in similar increments.
After solid year-on-year growth, TV Choice topped 1.4 million issues a week, putting it ahead of What's on TV, which saw a year-on-year decline of 3.5 per cent, by almost 20,000 copies.
Liz Watkinson, the publishing director at H Bauer, says: "This result is definitely great for advertisers, I suspect everyone will be able to benefit from the halo effect of taking the number one spot."
However, Fiona Dent, the managing director at IPC tx, remains optimistic about her magazine's performance: "What's on TV still sells a staggering number of copies every week - and is priced at an 18 per cent premium to competitor TV Choice."
She also points out that it was the biggest-selling magazine over the Christmas period, outselling TV Choice by 650,000 copies.
Outside of the big news in the sector, life continues as normal and it was a stable rather than positive showing for Radio Times, the country's biggest magazine by revenue, as the grand old title dropped by just 2.8 per cent, still leaving it selling more than one million copies a week.
Kathy Day, the title's publisher, says: "The magazine is by far the biggest in ad revenue. We can reach readers that other magazines just can't, and being the third biggest-selling magazine in the UK will only help us build on this."
Day points out that a lot of the title's profitability has been down to an increased focus on subs growth in the past year: "Most magazines do not have as many subs as us. Three years ago, we were on about 10,000, now we're on 98,000 - and all of these at a premium price."
Despite the success of TV Choice, it wasn't all good news for H Bauer as its mid-price title TV Quick saw another double-digit decline. IPC's small format TV Easy also saw a sales dip in the double digits.
Watkinson says: "I think it's clear to see that these magazines have had their heyday. They're being squeezed by the premium and the budget titles, and there isn't anywhere to go."
Publishers also play up the levels of investment in online. Day says of Radio Times' efforts: "Radiotimes.com now has 1.2 million unique users and gets eight million page impressions a month - all of which adds to the strength of the editorial product."
This period also showed the soap opera-focused titles are still picking up new readers. It seems that readers just can't get enough of events at Albert Square or on Coronation Street. All About Soap showed by far the biggest growth in this market, increasing its circulation by more than a quarter, while Soaplife and Inside Soap posted rises of 5 per cent and 5.7 per cent respectively.
Verdict Overall, the market remained stable on around five million sales a week, as it has done for years. However, there is optimism that this could grow as digital switchover starts to sweep across the country.
Title Publisher Total ABC Period-on- Year-on-
% change % change
TV Choice H Bauer 1,404,950 0.9 3.8
What's on TV IPC 1,386,900 -2.5 -3.5
Radio Times BBC Magazines 1,054,184 0.7 -2.6
TV Times IPC 358,511 1.6 -5.0
TV Easy IPC 254,669 -10.6 -13.2
TV Quick H Bauer 211,608 -5.9 -14.0
Inside Soap Hachette
Filipacchi 200,045 0.6 5.7
TV & Satellite Week IPC 195,368 -3.1 -5.8
Total TV Guide H Bauer 115,819 2.9 5.8
Soaplife IPC 102,452 -6.4 5.0
All About Soap Hachette
Filipacchi 100,048 14.2 28.2
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations, July-December 2007.