BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014
Press Office
Search the BBC and Web
Search BBC Press Office

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

BBC Worldwide Press Releases

Record circulation increase for BBC Magazines

BBC Magazines is celebrating its biggest overall circulation jump for a decade as titles such as Good Homes, eve, Top Gear and Wildlife celebrate success in the latest round of ABC figures.


Circulation is up 13% year on year overall when Origin Publishing – acquired by BBC Magazines this period – is included. And even leaving aside the four Origin titles ABCed this period but including BBC Wildlife and BBC History Magazine, which transferred following the acquisition, BBC Magazines is up 8% year on year and 8% period on period.


Highlights of the ABCs for January to June 2004 include:


  • Good Homes up 13% year on year;

  • Debut ABC of 63,517 for olive and over 400,000 for Food Group;

  • eve UK's fastest growing women's glossy for third consecutive period, up 14%;

  • Top Gear's third consecutive increase, up 5%;

  • Debut ABC of 60,000 for Balamory, leading growth of 5% period on period for pre-school/educational titles;

  • Subscriptions up 15% year on year (including Origin).


Says Managing Director of BBC Magazines Peter Phippen: "This has been one of the most exciting periods in BBC Magazines' history, not only because it saw the acquisition of Origin Publishing as our new specialist arm but also because we rose to the challenge of new competition in Food and Gardening, extended our presence in the Women's and Children's sectors and strengthened our market leadership in Motoring."


Radio Times

Radio Times has weathered what has been an unusually difficult period in the paid-for listings sector to post one of the smallest declines in the market, despite free and paid-for rivals investing huge amounts in major television advertising campaigns.


Without any such promotion, the magazine also managed to increase its cover price by 2p in January and ended its most profitable financial year ever this period.


June saw Radio Times roll out the largest direct marketing campaign in its history to almost one million homes in London and Manchester as part of a targeted drive to attract new readers.


Under the direction of Editor Gill Hudson, the magazine began to make major changes to its editorial content and design this period in response to some of the most wide-ranging research Radio Times has ever commissioned into British television viewing habits and these changes are ongoing.


Recently, Radio Times announced it was now the most widely circulated magazine in the world to be printed entirely on FSC (Forestry Stewardship Certificate) paper following a switch in June.


The magazine's website ( has had yet another record year: 356,298 unique users (ABCe, May 2004) - up 43% year-on-year; and 10.6 million page impressions (ABCe, May 2004) - up 31% year-on-year.


The website also launched its own SMS programme reminder service this period and increased its support of the magazine using interactive polls which have provided the basis for winning features in the weekly magazine such as Britain's finest actor/actress in conjunction with Channel 5 and the BAFTA Radio Times Audience Award.


Radio Times continued to make the headlines not just here in the UK but around the world with its exclusive interviews and revelations from the likes of Alex Kingston and John McEnroe (USA Today, Sydney Morning Herald, LA Times) – as well as its groundbreaking features such as the Top 40 Most Powerful People in UK TV Drama and the Coolest TV Shows.


ABC Jan-Jun 2004
ABC Jan-Jun 2003
change yoy
Radio Times

Marcus Arthur, Radio Times' Publishing Director says: "Radio Times continues to retain its title as the UK's most profitable magazine. The magazine continues to offer potential advertisers an unrivalled ABC1 profile of 76% and returns more money to the retailer than any other title on the shelves. We've also reinvested heavily in audience research and direct marketing during this period and Radio Times is well on its way to becoming the easiest to use, most comprehensive, intelligent guide to the world of TV, radio and film."




Yet again eve magazine outperforms the competition, with a superb 14% year on year rise – positive proof of the increasing impact eve magazine is having on the glossy market. This is eve's THIRD consecutive period as the fastest growing women's glossy!


The title has continued it's steady momentum over the last 12 months, appealing to more and more women in their 30s with its fresh, glamorous and spirited editorial approach. As well as the 14% rise year on year, eve is up over 5% period on period with newsstand sales up over 15% year on year and subscriptions up 52% year on year, having tripled since re-launch at the end of 2002.


Continuing improvements through constant contact with the readers (via the unique eve reader panel of 4,000 members and growing), a highly visible presence on the newsstands and an editorial product that is the best of its kind has ensured this year's success.


Jo Morrell, Publishing Director - Women's Lifestyle Group, says: "eve continues to impress and excite the industry, and strengthen its cult status among (primarily) 30-something women who enjoy our unique mix of indulgence, glamour, humour and spirit. We are thrilled to be releasing our strongest sales figure ever for the fourth consecutive ABC period, breaking through the 150,000 barrier, and in line with our original three year goal. Inevitably, our plans for the brand over the next 12 months will build on this success further and focus on continuing to strengthen the bond we have with our readers through innovation and increased interaction with them both on and off the page."


The first issue of the micro-glossy What to Wear has delivered a strong debut ABC of 80,000. With terrific feedback from both the consumers and the industry and a real appetite for a magazine purely about shopping, the second edition of What to Wear goes out on October 1, at the start of the autumn fashion season and to coincide with the new series of What Not To Wear on BBC 1.


ABC Jan-Jun 2004
ABC Jan-Jun 2003
change yoy
What to Wear




BBC Magazines has achieved combined sales of over 400,000 for its food portfolio during the sector's most competitive period since the launch of BBC Good Food 15 years ago.


Market leader BBC Good Food has retained its pre-eminent position, only 6% down year on year, while BBC Magazines succeeded in attracting nearly 100,000 new sales for its two recently launched food titles. Glossy monthly olive, launched last November, records a debut ABC of 63,517. BBC Easy Cook, which launched this period, will be published quarterly.


Says Food Group Publisher Nicki Hill: "BBC Good Food magazine looks stronger than we could have dreamed of in the face of new competition; olive has made a powerful and promising debut while delivering on its promise to be fresh and innovative; and BBC Easy Cook has extended the BBC Magazines Food Group's reach still further with a title offering simple advice through inspirational everyday cooking."


And the success story this period doesn't stop there. BBC Good Food has seen subscriptions increase by 7% year on year to 97,995 and the coming months will see the title continue to go from strength to strength with improvements to editorial, improved paper quality and an increase in pagination averaging ten percent for each issue.


The fourth magazine in the BBC Magazines Food Group, BBC Vegetarian Good Food, also returns with another Christmas issue later this year.


Both BBC Good Food and olive will be retaining and developing their unique look and feel in the market in the coming months, for example through their exclusive and tailor-made contracts with celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Gary Rhodes and Bill Grainger. And both magazines are planning a tie-in with a TV series.


Meanwhile, BBC Easy Cook returns with a second issue on 18 August, having won a tremendous response from readers and advertisers alike.


ABC Jan-Jun 2004
ABC Jan-Jun 2003
change yoy
BBC Good Food




BBC Good Homes' relaunch with its May issue has proved a spectacular success, leading to a 13% jump in circulation year on year and period on period growth in subscriptions of an amazing 50%.


The magazine's new look was unveiled from the May issue, with an extra 32 editorial pages per issue and additional content on property and decorating. BBC Magazines announced a multi-million pound marketing investment over the next five years to support retailer promotions, above the line advertising, sampling, covermounting and direct marketing.


Although the rapid jump in ABC has come very soon after the relaunch, the plan is for long-term growth. Says Publisher Brian Whittaker: "We're thrilled with a double digit percentage jump so soon after the relaunch and and it's a testament to the hard work of Editor Lisa Allen, who joined us last year, and her editorial team. It's the first step towards our long-term goal of playing a leading role in this mid market homes sector.


"Advertisers have responded really positively to the changes and are now keen to be involved with us in a range of new marketing partnerships - from the BBC Good Homes Show to in-store activity and direct mail.


"We wanted this to be a new start for BBC Good Homes and that's exactly what it is, with subscribers already showing their long-term commitment to the title. We aim to become the number one choice for anyone who wants to improve their home."


As recently reported, BBC Magazines has started the second phase of repositioning sister title BBC Homes & Antiques as the homemakers' bible for the upmarket sector.The recent appointment of Sarah Whelan as Style Director has been a key part of this second phase and the first new look issue will be the November edition.


Says Publisher Brian Whittaker: "We've already started the process of repositioning BBC Homes & Antiques for those seeking a single source of inspiration for classic home style, as well as further enhancing the editorial environment for advertisers. The profile is now moving in the direction we desire and advertisers are increasingly vocal in their praise for the magazine's vastly improved appeal under Mary Carroll's editorship.


"We knew that this repositioning would result in some change but with a circulation still at a level many in the upmarket homes sector would love to secure, BBC Homes & Antiques will continue to be one of the top titles in its sector. And with a promotional budget nearing the £1 million mark and a 250,000 sampling initiative for the autumn, there are vigorous plans to take BBC Homes & Antiques forward."


Title ABC Jan-Jun 2004 ABC Jan-Jun 2003 change yoy
BBC Good Homes
BBC Homes & Antiques




As with Food, BBC Magazines' Gardening Group has faced additional competition this period. However, all three titles - BBC Gardeners' World, BBC Easy Gardening and Gardens Illustrated - record stable or increased ABCs this period, delivering a combined circulation of over 450,000.


As well as facing a more competitive newsstand environment, the magazines were also affected by the poor weather during the key spring months but they continued to innovate, introducing some exciting new series during this period - in particular Inside Gardeners' World, which provides an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the TV programme.


ABC Jan-Jun 2004
ABC Jan-Jun 2003
change yoy
BBC Gardeners' World


Market leader BBC Gardeners' World saw subscriptions increase to over 126,000 - up 7% year on year and period on period - highlighting an increasingly loyal readership, while BBC Easy Gardening very encouragingly showed stable circulation since its increase in frequency from three spring issues to seven issues a year. This is its first six-monthly ABC.


There was a substantial increase in circulation for Gardens Illustrated on UK newsstands, up 11%, and subscriptions grew by 9%. This title, horticulture's style bible, has also switched to a six-monthly ABC and is up 14% overall.


BBC Magazines will continue to strengthen its market-leading position this year by updating its groundbreaking Gardening and the Nation research to inform editorial, marketing and advertising plans.


The new Gardening and The Nation 2004 report - to be undertaken by New Solutions - will update the findings from BBC Worldwide's original report, produced by New Solutions in 1998.


The UK's most comprehensive research project to date into consumer attitudes to gardening, it will explore current consumer attitudes to the world of gardening and the gardening media, including in-depth research into the key attitudinal, motivational and segmental shifts that have occurred since the original research.


Says Publisher Dominic Murray: "This has been a challenging but very exciting period for us, in which we've shown the continued strength of brands like BBC Gardeners' World but also our ability to keep refreshing our magazines to stay ahead of changes in the market. New research will enable us to continue to achieve that but for now such a positive set of ABCs is an enormous achievement."


ABC Jan-Jun 2004
ABC Jan-Jun 2003
change yoy
Gardens Illustrated
BBC Easy Gardening




BBC Top Gear magazine records year on year and period on period growth this ABC period with sales of 152,000 and is market leader for the 21 st consecutive period. Subscriptions are up 30% year on year; UK active purchase is up 16% year on year and UK newsstand is up 13% year on year.


As last period, the magazine's International Edition (which doesn't include classified ads) is reported separately from the UK edition. These figures are combined to give a figure for 'Top Gear Group' - the headline figure for the magazine.


Says Publisher Adam Waddell: "When we redesigned last autumn under new Editor Michael Harvey sales took a huge leap forward and we have kept the momentum going to record this result. We've also continued to develop the magazine and very recently redesigned its first 100 pages.


"The latest ABC includes 28,805 subscribers and this figure continues to rise as readers make a long-term commitment to the magazine, having sampled it since the redesign last autumn and found it unmissable.


"The ABC's tell a really positive story for Top Gear. But we are also delighted that the industry recognises what we've achieved creatively – we've already been shortlisted for both the PPA Awards and the Magazine Design Awards in 2004."


Meanwhile, a new licensed edition of Top Gear magazine launched into the growing Chinese market this period will be joined next month by a Russian edition and before the end of 2004 by a further one in the Phillipines.


This will bring the total number of licensed editions to six, although they are not included in the ABC.


Says Adam Waddell: "Overseas publishers have been quick to recognise that there is no other motoring magazine in the world quite like Top Gear. Further global expansion is an important part of our publishing strategy for the coming months and years."



ABC Jan-Jun 2004
ABC Jan-Jun 2003
change yoy
BBC Top Gear



Youth & Children's

BBC Magazines Youth & Children's portfolio has performed strongly this period.


Says Publishing Director Jaynie Bye: "Once again the strength of BBC Magazines as the UK's leading publisher of children's magazines is underlined by a terrific set of ABCs, which tell us that 50 BBC pre-school magazines are sold every minute of the day during daylight hours and 76 copies of our Youth & Children's magazines."


The teen market has had an incredibly tough period. However, Top Of The Pops Magazine has outperformed the market, which is down 18% overall, while sister title It's HOT! is only marginally behind it.


Says Publisher Alfie Lewis: "As we always do with Top Of The Pops Magazine we remained true to our proposition, offering the best exclusive access to the stars and a fun sense of humour, while constantly evolving the magazine through extensive reader research to keep it fresh."


Despite a disappointing result year on year, It's HOT! has been boosted by investment in the title mid-period and publisher Alfie Lewis is confident of a strong future for the title: "Readers told us they liked the comic strips in It's HOT! best of all so we gave them exactly what they wanted - a free cartoon magazine with every issue incorporating official EastEnders and Busted comic strips to reflect the two biggest things in young teenagers' lives."


The background to the difficult teen market includes a fall in CD sales of nearly a third and, as in previous periods, the huge popularity of new attractions such as mobile phones, but teen magazines still have a massive following.


Says Alfie Lewis: "With combined sales of over 300,000 we are still reaching huge numbers of young teenagers and the success of our magazines demonstrates that there is a great appetite for the right product."


In pre-teen, BBC Magazines' well-established Girl Talk continued the dramatic growth seen over the last two periods with a 5% increase year on year.


In addition, BBC Magazines is to capitalise on the strength of the Girl Talk brand by making Girl Talk Specials - which have an ABC for the first time this period - a regular monthly title, having usually been published five times a year previously. Also adding to the success of the pre-teen girl portfolio, Disney Girl is up 15% year on year.


Says Jaynie Bye: "With the renewed success of Girl Talk, the time is right to extend the brand into a second monthly magazine focusing on pop music and other themes, in line with our aim to be the first choice in the pre-teen market."


The pre-school and educational portfolio, with a combined circulation of over one million copies, increased circulation 5% period on period. BBC Toybox remains the best-selling pre-school magazine in the UK. It was joined this period by Balamory - already selling 60,054 copies - linked to the hit pre-school TV series of the same name.


BBC Magazines has also looked for growth in new areas too and last year's boys' launch for five to sevens, Action Hero, records an increase of 7% in its first comparative ABC period. Among the education titles, BBC Learning is Fun! records a massive 27% increase period on period.


Says Jaynie Bye: "This fantastic increase shows that we are really getting through to mums with our message about the value of educational magazines."


ABC Jan-Jun 2004
ABC Jan-Jun 2003
change yoy
Top Of The Pops Magazine
It's HOT!
Girl Talk
Girl Talk Specials
All pre-school and educational



BBC Origin

BBC Magazines this period acquired Origin Publishing, transferring its three specialist interest titles, BBC History Magazine, BBC Music Magazine and BBC Wildlife to the Bristol-based company, which will become BBC Magazines' specialist arm. Two of these magazines, together with some of Origin's existing titles, record ABCs this period while BBC Music Magazine records an annual ABC in February.


BBC History Magazine is up 2% period on period and down 2% year on year. Following its transfer, BBC History Magazine incorporated the best and most popular features from Origin's Living History magazine from its June issue but this came too late in the period to have a significant impact on the ABC. However, the title is outperforming its advertising budget month after month and exciting plans are in place for the autumn.


Says Publisher Andy Benham: "Advertisers are delighted with the new BBC History Magazine and that has enabled us to upsize every issue to 100 pages - a size which the previous version of History only previously reached occasionally. We also have a heavier promotional schedule this autumn than last, with covermounts including a free CD and this year's edition of History's very popular annual books supplement."


Meanwhile, sister title BBC Wildlife is up 9% year on year and 5% period on period - its third successive increase.

Like History, Wildlife has an exciting autumn planned at Origin, once again publishing a lavish supplement featuring images from the world famous Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, which the magazine continues to organise with the Natural History Museum, and later giving away a free calendar with its December issue.


Wildlife is also strengthening its links with the BBC Natural History Unit and will include an extensive preview of Alan Titchmarsh's major new BBC1 series, British Isles: A Natural History, in which the former Ground Force presenter explores the nation's natural history and geography.

Says Publisher Andy Benham: "It's obviously terrific to be taking on BBC Wildlife at a time of strong circulation growth but far from resting on our laurels we're continuing to invest in the magazine and, while it doesn't need to change radically, Editor Sophie Stafford and her team are continuing to make improvements."


Science and technology monthly Focus is up 2% following a major redesign with its February issue and further growth is expected.


Says Publisher Andy Benham: "We tried to make the magazine a lot more approachable while keeping its hard science foundation intact. The redesign meant that for the first time since we acquired the title we were really happy with both the look and feel of the magazine and we're now confident that Focus has been completely turned around and will continue to rebuild its circulation base in the future."


The other Origin titles recording an ABC this period include Card Making & Papercraft, launched mid-period in April, which will be joined by a second card making title, Quick Cards Made Easy later this month, serving the increasingly popular craze for making greetings cards. Meanwhile, Origin's two hair titles together record sales of over 100,000, Your Hair having increased its frequency from nine to 12 issues a year.


Says Origin's Chief Executive Kevin Cox: "This is a very promising set of results and I believe there is much greater circulation growth to come across the whole portfolio of titles. It's especially pleasing to see a title like Hair Ideas come in with an ABC of 65,000, proving that being a specialist magazines doesn't necessarily mean having a small circulation. And the launch of Card Making & Papercraft is a prime example of Origin's gift for spotting trends early and for producing outstanding magazines that meet readers' needs as they develop. These are exciting times for Origin - we are about to enter our period of greatest growth yet."



ABC Jan-Jun 2004
ABC Jan-Jun 2003
change yoy
BBC History Magazine




BBC Wildlife








Hair Ideas




Your Hair




Card Making & Papercraft




*ABC for Jan-Dec 2003



Notes to Editors

All figures quoted as subscriptions pertain to single copy subscription sales only.


BBC Magazines is a division of BBC Worldwide Ltd, the commercial consumer arm of the BBC. It is the UK's third largest consumer magazines publisher, with a portfolio of over 35 regular titles for adults, teenagers and children, and also owns Origin Publishing, which publishes a further range of contract titles and specialist consumer magazines.


BBC Worldwide does not use licence fee income for its activities and re-invests in public service programming. In 2003/2004 BBC Worldwide returned £141 million to the BBC.


View Calendar


Date : 13.08.2004
Printable version

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy