The Top 100 Magazines: Women's Weeklies

There's still a huge buzz around the weekly sector and its growth suggests it is expanding at the expense of some monthlies.

Despite the hype around real-life magazines, this year's growth has again come from the celebrity titles. OK! shot up five places with an ABC of 649,777 copies.

Richard Desmond, the Northern & Shell chairman, says this rise was not just attributable to the issues covering the glamour model Jordan's wedding.

He says: "We have spent millions on promotions, marketing and editorial and we've increased our pagination. This is going to continue next year and we've committed £30 million to television advertising.

"I don't like real life, I like fantasy and people are the same."

Also seeing a dramatic charge up the rankings was Emap's Closer. Its 14.7 per cent year-on-year increase saw it racing ahead of IPC Media's Now and Emap's Heat. With 578,337 copies, it came second in the celebrity market.

Paul Keenan, the chief executive of Emap Consumer Media, says: "Heat and Closer had their best-ever year despite more competition and that competition spending more money."

He denies there is any threat from new entries to the market, saying: "Copycat titles are irritating. Despite all the research they haven't brought anything new to the market."

ACP-Natmag's Reveal also saw a 44 per cent year-on-year jump. But the title, launched 18 months ago, still languishes 200,000 copies behind Closer.

Now saw a slip from first into third place. The magazine had its second consecutive period-on-period decrease, taking it to 577,818 copies.

All eyes were on the real-life market with two titles launched last year (IPC's Pick Me Up and Burda's Full House) and two more this year (ACP-Natmag's Real People and News Magazines' Love It!). However, there were declines. Bauer titles fared worse with its market-leading Take a Break reporting a 5.5 per cent year-on-year drop and That's Life falling 8.6 per cent over the same period.

David Goodchild, Bauer's managing director, says: "With more launches, we're getting more fragmentation but Take a Break is still at the top. And we'll fight tooth and nail to stay there."

IPC titles were also down with Pick Me Up suffering a 2.4 per cent drop from last period. The IPC Connect managing director, Evelyn Webster, is unfazed, saying: "Pick Me Up has provided a massive tonic to the women's weekly market, reinvigorating the real-life sector."

Full House recorded its first ABC figure of 235,787.

Verdict The jury is out on whether the next period's growth will be in the celebrity or real-life market. If Love It! and Real People prove to be original, they could attract the new readers their publishers believe are out there. If they are copycat titles, they might not last long in a market already well-supplied by established players.

WOMEN'S WEEKLIES TITLE PUBLISHER Total ABC Period-on Year-on -period -year % change % change Take a Break H Bauer 1,155,886 -3.7 -5.5 OK! Northern & Shell 649,777 21.9 22.7 Chat IPC 602,308 -1.1 -5.3 Closer Emap 578,337 7.1 14.7 Now IPC 577,818 -2.4 -6.7 Heat Emap 575,267 2.6 4.2 That's Life H Bauer 550,036 -3.4 -8.6 Pick Me Up IPC 491,669 -2.4 n/a Woman IPC 456,524 -6.0 -13.5 New! Northern & Shell 426,161 14.2 7.6 Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations, July-December 2005.

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