British Comic Sales Figures, Winners and Losers (July – December 2017): Good news for Beano, bad for TOXIC

Beano - cover dated 17th February 2018

The latest sales figures for some comics and children’s magazines available on the UK news stand for the second half of 2017 have just been published by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC).

There are winners and losers as ever, as consumer magazines in general fight for readers in an increasingly difficult market – but at least there’s good news for Beano, which has seen its sales increase after its major revamps this year.

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 sales.

Do note that not every comic or children’s magazine is ABC listed but we now try to include all current titles in this busy sector in our list, even those with no audited sales. You have to pay to be on the ABCs, and some publishers don’t consider it very worthwhile, particularly if a title isn’t chasing advertising revenue. (Panini didn’t list Doctor Who Magazine until 2010 for example, even though Marvel UK did when they published it).

As usual there are, sadly, no figures for 2000AD (or Judge Dredd Megazine), Commando or The Phoenix in the public domain.

We hope, however, that the continued presence of Hachette’s 2000AD-related part works, including the new Ultimate Collection, are helping raise the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic’s profile on the news stand.

Beano 3905 - CoverBoost for Beano – and VIZ

Both The Beano and VIZ, who report only annually have published their sales figures for the whole of 2017 and both are doing well.

The Dennis TV show will no doubt be helping the title as it heads toward its 80th anniversary later this year.

The sales figures are no doubt helped for both by strong subscription figures, too – with Dennis Publishing noting that VIZ single copy subscription sales have risen from 15,484 to 15,644, with a 1% subscription increase year on year.

This aspect of magazine publishing may go unnoticed by some, but it helps ensure a title’s longer term profitability. So while sales figures are down for many titles they’re buoyed up on titles such as Doctor Who Magazine and Beano by advance subscriber revenues, a revenue strand titles like Egmont’s TOXIC does not have.

Sadly, TOXIC sales are still declining despite recently reaching its landmark 300th issue. The magazine is facing fierce competition from titles with a similar format, including 110% Gaming, EPIC and Mega. These rivals have got to be hurting sales, along with the continued decline in consumer magazine sales in general.

LEGO titles loom large

Licensed titles continue to dominate sales of course, as they have since the 1990s. Immediate Media’s LEGO titles have had a particularly strong ABC performance, with Nexo Knights posting an ABC of 54,350 up 2.3% year-on-year and Lego Ninjago up 6.5% year-on-year to an ABC figure of 79,767 and Lego Friends recording a 14.1% increase year-on-year to 43,877.

Doctor Who Adventures – will it return?

It’s interesting to note that despite the cancellation of  Doctor Who Adventures it’s still listed on the distribution site National Title File as an active title. Perhaps Panini do hold out hope for its return when the TV show returns with a new Doctor in the autumn.

Super Hero Comic Sales largely a mystery

DC Super Hero Girls has not been on sale long enough to report sales and as usual, despite numerous superhero related titles in the market, only Panini’s Ultimate Spider-Man is ABC rated, up from 23,308 average sales in January – June 2017 to 24,831. It serves as the only indicator of how these US comic reprints published by Panini and Titan are doing in your local newsagents.

Sparkle World Issue 214 - CoverPre-School and Girls

Pre-school specialist Redan Publishing is celebrating that in the ever competitive pre-school sector Fun To Learn Peppa Pig Bag-O-Fun has retained its top spot with an ABC of 79,399, with Fun To Learn Peppa Pig remaining in second place with an ABC of 62,554.

In the hugely competitive girls title sector (I can’t be the only person to be bemused by just how many titles use the word “Princes” in some way), Sparkle World continues to be the best-selling multi-character magazine in the Primary Girls sector. Redan’s magazine has posted an ABC of 46,656, a slight increase from last year which is all the more impressive, considering the pace at which this category is expanding.

These reported figures are the first to reflect changes to the way the way ABC reports on consumer magazines and regional publications, in a bid to make it easier for media buyers and owners to use its data. The changes highlight key ABC census metrics, incorporate graphs and charts for easy comparison and simplify reporting processes.

The new reports are aimed at making it easier for media buyers and owners to use for trading.

Viewing the figures overall, there’s plenty still to celebrate for publishers and the comics sector, despite being a pale shadow of the kind of figures of decades past, continues to be strong enough for publishers to still want to invest in. Fingers crossed, that will continue.

WHSmiths Pre-Teen and junior titles rack, 13th February 2018
WHSmiths Pre-Teen and junior titles rack, 13th February 2018
Teen titles in a WHSmith store, 13th February 2018. The eagle-eyed might spot out of date 2000ADs lurking in the photo - two weeks worth of the comic were on display
Teen titles in a WHSmith store, 13th February 2018. The eagle-eyed might spot out of date 2000ADs lurking in the photo – two weeks worth of the comic were on display

Publisher Reaction and Statements

DC Thomson and Beano Studios are clearly delighted by the reported figures for Beano, which has undergone some major changes over the past year, all of which have not only raised the title’s profile but helped boost sales too.

Beano comic has posted an 7.9% year-on-year increase in the recent ABC release, recording weekly sales figures of 37,542 copies.

“Celebrating its 80th anniversary in July, Beano has long been a hugely important part of DC Thomson Media portfolio, and loved by hundreds of thousands of readers,” the publishers note. “This latest ABC release shows that the comic hasn’t lost its shine, selling 1.86 million copies in 2017.

“This increase in sales shows consistent long term growth for the title with three successive yearly increases posted. A copy of Beano is sold every 17 seconds in the UK!”

Maria Welch, Head of Publishing for Magazines at DC Thomson Media, said, “To see a publication perform so well in an extremely challenged market is hugely positive. The children’s magazine sector is characterised by frequent launches and closures and it is testament to the enduring appeal of Beano that today’s readers are still being entertained every week by the nation’s favourite comic.”

Within this figure Beano has seen remarkable growth with subscriptions, exceeding 20,000 for the first time, doubling subscriber numbers over the last five years.

Mike Watson, Managing Director of DC Thomson Media, said, “We’re thrilled with the performance of Beano. To see a title grow in this sector, which is on average down – 7.8% year on year, is great, but Beano’s increase of nearly eight per cent is exceptional. We’re thrilled to be able to continue to provide readers with a weekly dose of mischief, mayhem and fun!”

Dennis Publishing

In its 39th year, VIZ maintains its market presence and loyal subscribers continue to grow.

The award winning Dennis subscriptions team has ensured that VIZ single copy subscription sales have risen from 15,484 to 15,644, with a 1% subscription increase year on year.

Immediate Media Co

Immediate Media Co, the special interest content and platform company, has posted a combined print and digital circulation of 2,130,656 up 29.0% period-on-period and down 0.5% year-on-year, for titles reporting July to December 2017.

The company has also recorded a 1.1% growth in Retail Sales Value (RSV) year-on-year to £122.59m.

* Immediate’s ABC-audited print circulation is 2,073,529 – up 26.4% period-on-period and Down 0.6% year-on-year

* Immediate’s ABC-audited digital circulation also continues to rise, reporting a total circulation of 57,127, up 3.6% year-on-year.

* With a total audience of 1.17 million subscribers, the company remains the leading magazine publishing company for subscriptions.

Tom Bureau, CEO of Immediate Media, says: “Immediate’s focus on special interest brands and high quality content continues to pay dividends. Our market-leading print brands continue to perform well and drive revenue growth on the newsstand and in subscriptions.

Alongside our growth in print, we are making significant investments in our digital platforms where TV shopping, digital maretplaces, e-commerce, live events and innovative subscription models are transforming our business model as we develop our multi-platform strategy. Immediate now reaches over 22 million consumers a month.”

Immediate’s LEGO titles have had a particularly strong ABC performance, with Nexo Knights posting an ABC of 54,350 up 2.3% year-on-year and Lego Ninjago up 6.5% year-on-year to an ABC figure of 79,767 and Lego Friends recording a 14.1% increase year-on-year to 43,877.

Redan Publishing

Redan Publishing is delighted to report that Fun To Learn Friends has seen an impressive year on year increase in circulation of 7.12% to its new ABC of 48,001, whilst sister title FTL Favourites has seen a period on period rise of 10.02% to 38,735 which sees the title’s return to the Pre-school Top Ten.

The Pre-school specialist is also celebrating that in the ever competitive pre-school sector Fun To Learn Peppa Pig Bag-O-Fun has retained its top spot with an ABC of 79,399, with Fun To Learn Peppa Pig remaining in second place with an ABC of 62,554.

Sparkle World continues to be the best-selling multi-character magazine in the Primary Girls sector posting an ABC of 46,656, a slight increase from last year which is all the more impressive, considering the pace at which this category is expanding.

Web Links

• 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 – 2017)

Last year, Lew Stringer offered his take on declining comic sales, also pointing at polybagged comics that limit discovery and browsing, and poor retail display here on his Blimey blog

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", working as a freelance editor, as Creative Consultant on the new Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years. His credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel UK and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines. He also edited STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics, including Team M.O.B.I.L.E. and The Beatles Story. 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.

2 thoughts on “British Comic Sales Figures, Winners and Losers (July – December 2017): Good news for Beano, bad for TOXIC

  • February 17, 2018 at 9:20 am
    Permalink

    Apart from competition from rival publications, Toxic’s performance may also be affected by distribution. I notice the shelves of the shop in your photo don’t seem to have Toxic in stock for example, unless it’s right at the top at the back, well out of reach of its intended readership. While one expects some fluctuation in sales, and admittedly there have been gradual drops for a while, the sudden loss of 50 percent of its readership between issues 298 and 299 seems suspicious to me. That issue came out on December 20th, so the distractions of Christmas were probably a contributing factor, or perhaps delays in distributing it to some areas?

    • February 17, 2018 at 9:38 am
      Permalink

      The way titles are crammed in some WHSmith can’t help sales. Displays are often better in supermarkets, but they don’t carry as many titles.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: