Just some of the comics and children's magazines on sale in Sainsbury's Lancaster, in August 2019

British Comic Sales Figures, Winners and Losers (January – June 2019)

Just some of the comics and children's magazines on sale in Sainsbury's Lancaster, in August 2019
Just some of the comics and children’s magazines on sale in Sainsbury’s Lancaster, in August 2019

Despite some bleak circulation figures, there’s a few bits of good cheer among the reported latest sales for consumer magazines on British news stands issued by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which included comics.

Overall, sales of children’s magazines grew, with Primary – Girls up by 7% with Primary – Boys up 3%. In terms of specific titles, the biggest successes include Redan’s Fun to Learn – Favourites are up 10%, and DC Thomson’s Beano by 8%, thanks no doubt in part to growth in subscription sales. But Immediate Media’s Lego Friends sales were down 25% and their Lego Special Series down 24%.

Sadly, one casualty of the period seems to be the fairly new Munch Cats, launched only in February, which bid to stand out from other children’s titles by saying Say No To Plastic and eschewing polybags and cover mounts.

Munch Cats! Issue OneSadly, this much appreciated decision seem to have failed to win it the sales it deserved, although its web site as yet makes no mention of its apparent withdrawal from the news stand, with Issue 7 on sale through their online shop.

Figures published last week indicate the Top 50 actively purchased magazines in the UK falling below 10 million level, amid cover price increases and a reduction in the number of cover mounts, as publishers continue to reinvent themselves in the face of a changing marketplace.

The total average actively purchased circulation of the top 50 actively purchased titles fell from 10,563,054 in the first half of 2018 to 9,643,340 in the first half of 2019, with women’s magazines such as Hearst’s Cosmopolitan and the independently published Hello! hit hard. Overall, women’s weeklies sector saw circulation drop by 9%.

Only Private Eye (with average sales of 233565 per issue) and Peppa Pig: Bag of Fun (79,089) are in the best-selling Top 50 magazine titles in the UK that might interest downthetubes readers.

Trade title Campaign notes that one way the big publishers are fighting back to maintain sales is to team up to offer “multi bags” of their titles, which has seen Bauer Media’s Grazia offered alongside Hearst’s Red. Publishers are also diversifying beyond news stand sales, using their brands to sell events – and launching membership programmes to encourage subscriber loyalty.

BBC Gardeners’ World magazine, for example, benefitted from its annual 2for1 Gardens to Visit Promotion, which has helped push that title’s circulation is up 20.2% period-on-period and down 1.9% year-on-year, with a monthly combined ABC of 204,588.

We have to wonder if a comics publisher could come up with a similar idea that would help push its sales in a similar way?

SUBSCRIPTION NOTES

It’s interesting to note that the majority of the Beano‘s sales are now through subscription, with an average sale of 24,150 copies, against 16,720 average news stand sales. That’s in marked contrast to January – June 2011, when its average news stand sale was 37,145 per issue, with just 6,483 subscription sales. It’s an indication of how important building a brand is, and encouraging reader loyalty that DC Thomson Media and Bean Studios have clearly learnt well, with the title now selling better than it has done since 2010.

DIGITAL SALES

While not every titles reports them, growing digital sales are also, at last, playing a major part in magazine sales, and magazine web sites are benefitting from strong visitor numbers, such as Radio Times, which received a record-breaking 18.2 million unique visitors in July 2019.

With its keen eye on brand building, Beano Studios is no doubt pleased with visits to Beano.com. too, although we remain utterly mystified that they aren’t using its success to better promote subscriptions and the weekly comic.

the bad news: less repoRting

Sales of TOXIC are no no longer reported. The title ceased originating strips earlier this year
Sales of TOXIC are no no longer reported. The title ceased originating strips earlier this year

On the downside of this release of sales figures, last time we reported on news stand comic sales back in February, we also noted that comics and children’s magazines publishers seemed increasingly reluctant to share sales data.

Sadly, that trend has continued, with Egmont no longer including many of their titles in their ABC filings. This includes TOXIC, whose strips are now all reprint.

Perhaps the value of registration, long used as a guide by advertisers on placement decisions, is outweighed by the cost as sales fall.

As mentioned before, the growing number of advertisements no longer acceptable in titles aimed at children, there seems to be very little of it. Long gone are the days when you could plug a new chocolate bar, ice cream or sugary cereal in a comic – and gone with it is that revenue stream, leaving publishers are far more dependent on cover price and subscriptions to generate revenue.

2000ADCommando and all the UK’s news stand superhero titles – from publishers such as Panini and Titan Comics – are not ABC registered.

We’ve updated our spreadsheet of sales figures we think will most interest downthetubes readers here. These figures, which we’ve been compiling since 2006, combine print circulation with digital edition and subscription sales.

There’s a list of every comic and children’s magazine currently on sale in newsagents below.

This list is via the National Title File which provides publication information to newsagents and distributors – and the publications are listed in the categories they set.

It should also be noted that the NTF list still includes some “legacy” titles no longer published, for example Titan Comics licensed DC Comics titles.

This previously happened with Panini’s Doctor Who Adventures which was still listed for some months as an active title, despite its cancellation.

• View our spreadsheet of ABC figures here (2006 – 2019)

• Having trouble finding your favourite title? Newsstand.co.uk offers over 4000 UK titles: www.newsstand.co.uk

PUBLISHER STATEMENTS

Cbeebies Special 117Immediate Media Co, the special interest content and platform company, has posted a combined ABC print and digital circulation of 1,680,394 for titles reporting January to June 2019.

Immediate’s portfolio of market-leading brands continue to perform strongly in their sectors: BBC Gardeners’ World magazine posted a 20% period-on-period growth, which included its May issue with its annual 2 for 1 Gardens to Visit Guide which recorded a 16% increase in sales year-on-year and a 24% increase in Retail Sales Value (RSV), generating over £1.2m on the newsstand.

Immediate remains the number one publisher in the Youth and Children’s market, with a 1.2% increase in circulation year-on-year across the portfolio, including a standout performance by Cbeebies Special which recorded a 6.3% period-on-period and a 4.3% year-on-year increase.

CBeebies Special recorded an ABC circulation of 53,210 up 6.3% period-on-period and up 4.3% year-on-year, while Mr. Tumble has seen exceptional growth, up 15.3% period-on-period and up 1.0% year-on-year to 24,967.

Pokémon magazine has also had an impressive period-on-period growth of 19.8%.

Immediate continues to be the UK’s leading magazine publisher in terms of subscribers, with 988,000 active subscribers.

Tom Bureau, CEO of Immediate, says: “Immediate’s portfolio of special interest brands continue to perform strongly across all platforms. The outstanding performance of the May issue of BBC Gardeners’ World magazine and our Youth and Children’s portfolio demonstrates the enduring appeal of quality print titles on the newsstand.

Both Radio Times and BBC Good Food, the biggest weekly and monthly magazine brands in the UK, have grown their reach with record-breaking digital audience numbers. And we continue to transform our business model, with the acquisition of specialist event producers Upper Street Events and River Street Events earlier this year, we have further enhanced our live events capabilities focused on specialist interest communities and now engage 26m consumers in the UK a month.”

2000AD 2145
On sale today – 2000AD 2145

CHILDREN’S MAGAZINES – TITLES ON SALE FEBRUARY 2019

Headings are those allocated by the National File Title

This list is via the National Title File which provides publication information to newsagents and distributors – and the publications are listed in the categories they set.

It should also be noted that the NTF list still includes some “legacy” titles no longer published, for example Titan Comics licensed DC Comics titles.

This previously happened with Panini’s Doctor Who Adventures which was still listed for some months as an active title, despite its cancellation.

Teenage Comics

2000 AD
2000 AD Presents… (Title Used To sell in “The Vigilant” etc)
Adventure Time
All-Star Batman (No Longer Published, see note above regarding “legacy” titles)
Astonishing Spider-Man
Avengers Universe
Commando 5255: Home of Heroes: Codename WarlordCommando – Sold In As Four Separate Titles
DC Spotlight (NLP see note above regarding “legacy” titles)
DC Team Up (NLP see note above regarding “legacy” titles)
DC Universe Presents (NLP see note above regarding “legacy” titles)
Doctor Who – Tales From the TARDIS
Deadpool Unleashed
Essential X-Men
I Love…
Judge Dredd Megazine
Mad (USA)
Marvel Legends
Mighty World Of Marvel
Otaku
Pony World
Rick & Morty Magazine
Top Model
Wolverine And Deadpool

Teenage Entertainment

Doctor Who Magazine

Beano 3999
Strong seller; the Beano

Primary Boys

110% Gaming
Action Combat
Action GTX
Beano
Ben 10
Dino Friends
Dinosaur Action
Dinosaur Attack
Epic Magazine (NLP see note above regarding “legacy” titles)
Footy
Get Busy
Horrible Histories
It’s Time For…
Lego City
Lego Giant Series (NLP see note above regarding “legacy” titles)
Lego Ninjago
Lego Star Wars
Mega
Pokemon
Simpsons Comic Magazine
Spider-Man Magazine
Star Wars Galaxy
Strike It
Superzings Official Magazine
Transformers Rid
WWE Kids

Pre-Teen

Activity Fun
Batman – Superman (NLP see note above regarding “legacy” titles)
Batman Rebirth (NLP see note above regarding “legacy” titles)
Be Rugby
Download
Equestrian Girls
First News
Futurama Specials
Go Girl
Independent Unofficial Guide to Fortnite
Kick Extra
Lego Specials
Minecraft World
Munch Cats (NLP see note above regarding “legacy” titles)
National Geographic Kids
Phoenix Issue 398Phoenix Weekly
Slime Factory
This Is…
Top Of The Pops
Toxic

Primary Girls

Angelina
Animal Friends
Animals And You
Barbie
Beautiful Mermaid
Build A Bear Workshop
Crazy For
Cuddles Baby Animals
Cute
Cute Cuddly _ Cancelled
Cute Special
Disney Princess
Fairy Princess
Favourite Friends
Fingerlings
Frozen
Girl
Girl Talk
Girl Talk Art
Hasbro Wow
Hatchimals
Hello Kitty Magazine
It’s All About Friends
Jacqueline Wilson
Katie
Lego Friends
Littlest Pet Shop
LOL Surprise
LOL Surprise Special
Love From
Mia And Me
Mia And Me Special
My Beautiful Princess
My Little Pony
My Little Pony Special
Num Noms
Pets 2 Collect
Pikmi Pops Surprise
Pink
Pony Friends
Princess Friends
Princess Secrets
Princess Storytime
Princess World
Princess World Special
Rainbow Magic
Shopkins
So Magical
Sparkle World 267Sparkle World
Spirit Riding Free
Star Girl
Summer Girl
Sweet
Totally
Trolls
Unicorn Magic
Unicorn Universe
We Love

Part Works

2000 AD Ultimate Collection
Assassins Creed
Build Back To Future Delor
Build The Terminator
Build Your Own X Wing
Classic Dinky Toy Collection
DC Comic Legend Batman Special
DC Comics Graphic Novel Collection
DC Graphic Novel Col Special 1″
Doctor Who Figure Coll Special 20″
Deadpool Graphic Novels
Doctor Who Figure Collection
Draw The Marvel Way
Legends Of Batman
Marvel Movie Collection
Marvel Movie Figure Special 12″
Marvel Movie Figure Special 11
Marvel Movie Figure Special 13
Marvel Universe Figurine C
Marvel Universe Special
Marvel Universe Special RH
Star Trek Graphic Novel A3
Star Trek Ships
Star Trek Starships Collection
Star Trek Starships Special 18
Transformers G1 Graph Novels
Ultimate Graphic Novels Relaunch
Ultimate Graphic Novel Collection
Warhammer
Warhammer Conquest

Pre-School Titles

321 Go
Andy’s Amazing Adventures
Baby Shark
Barney
Blaze Monster Machine
Bob The Builder
Busy Time
Cbeebies
Cbeebies Animals
Cbeebies Art
Charlie & Lola
Cuddles
Dinosaur Roar
Disney Art
Disney Playtime
Disney Stars
Everything
Fantastic Funworld
Fun To Learn Bag Of Fun
Fun To Learn Favourites
Fun To Learn Friends
Fun To Learn I Know
Fun To Learn Peppa Pig
Fun With…
Go Jetters
Hey Duggee
Let’s Play
Lucky Dip
Milkshake
Mister Maker
Mr Men Little Miss
Mr Tumble Something Special
My Favourite Fairytales
Octonauts
Okido
Paw Patrol
Peppa Pig Bag O Fun
Peter Rabbit
PJ Masks
Playtime
Rescue Bots
Ryan’s World
Showcase
Tellytime Favourites
Thomas And Friends
Toy Box
Wild Wheels

• The Audit Bureau of Circulations is the industry body for media measurement. The organisation brings the newspaper and magazine industry together to agree measurement and process Reporting Standards, a process that is constantly evolving to keep pace with industry developments.

• View our spreadsheet of ABC figures here (2006 – 2018)

• Having trouble finding your favourite title? Newsstand.co.uk offers over 4000 UK titles: www.newsstand.co.uk

FURTHER READING

Campaign: The Top 50 Magazines (January – June 2019)

Press Gazette: Men’s mag + TV + travel mag ABCs: National Geographic circulation drops by fifth

Print Week: The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has released the latest consumer magazine reports, highlighting a downward trend in circulation across the industry but with a number of bright spots

 

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

5 thoughts on “British Comic Sales Figures, Winners and Losers (January – June 2019)

  1. Great read. Rebellion have, I think, experimented with the bundle model. I was unaware of it at the time, but I’ve read several other readers expressing surprise at receiving the Tammy/Jinty special, since it was sold as part of a bundle of other revived IPC title specials, which were released several weeks apart.

    1. Yes, I subscribed to that Specials bundle, too, an absolute bargain, but the “bundles” in the article are newsstand items, publishers working together to co promote their titles, which is an interesting development.

      I’m sure I recall comics being offered in bundles as a kid… and of course, newsagents could also offer unsolds at a discount, which you’d find in a box somewhere in store, which was how I’d buy some titles that weren’t part of my regular purchases.

      I’m not sure that’s even possible these days, which is a shame.

  2. You have a major error in the list of comics. Not only are Batman Rebirth and Batman-Superman mistakenly listed as pre-teen titles, all of Titan’s DC Comics titles have folded, last December, so none of those should be on the list at all.

    1. They are all still listed as active on the National Title File List and that is how they are categorised but I will note the apparent cancellation as we reported in December.

    2. I have updated the article to make it clearer Titan Comics DC titles are “legacy” titles, publications still listed as available but which ended their runs in December last year.

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