Magazines News South Africa

ABC Q4 2023: Magazines: Sporting events fuel growth despite overall magazine circulation decline

The latest Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) of South Africa’s audited circulation figures release shows a significant annual decline of 12% for the magazine sector.
Image: Bizcommunity., Lesley Svenson. The ABC audited circulation figures show a significant annual decline of 12% for the magazine sector
Image: Bizcommunity., Lesley Svenson. The ABC audited circulation figures show a significant annual decline of 12% for the magazine sector

The figures, released today, Wednesday 21 February, are for the period October 2023 to December 2023, that is Quarter 4, 2023.

The decline is across all categories compared to Q3 and reflects a 16% drop in magazine membership to the ABC.

Despite this, there are highlights. Custom magazine circulation increased by 25%, Business-to-Business (B2B) by 6%, and Free magazines by 1% in contrast to Q3.

“Sporting magazines witnessed robust growth, largely attributed to the successful Rugby World Cup in France. Additionally, several consumer and custom magazines demonstrated circulation increases,” says the ABC.

In stark contrast, compared to Q3, consumer magazines decreased 12%.

The ABC notes a positive trend in total ABC circulation, which rose by 1.3% compared to Q3.

“It's important to consider that quarterly circulation is influenced by publication frequency. The total circulation for Q4 reached 9,349,836, reflecting this growth,” it states.

It adds, “Quarter-on-quarter, ABC membership decreased slightly from 405 to 403 in total, while year-on-year total membership declined from 448 to 403. Magazine membership increased by one member.”

This reflects a trend in 2023 that publishers appeared to favour adjusting publication frequency and reducing print volumes over shutting down their publications altogether.

Consumer magazines

Despite its sharp decline on Q3, this category had some good highlights.

The Sports & Hobbies sector figures bore testimony to the above statement by the ABC, with two of the three publications showing good increases.

Compleat Golfer had increases on the previous quarter and the prior year. SA Rugby had a good increase on the previous quarter on the back of the Rugby World Cup.

The other sector where publications show good gains is the Business & News category where two of the three publications showed double-figure gains.

Continuing its upward movement in Q2 and Q3 Forbes Africa had gains on the previous quarter and had double-figure gains on the prior year.

The Big Issue Magazine had over 45% growth on the previous quarter.

Financial Mail could not continue its upward gains in Q2 and Q3, and saw its circulation on the previous quarter decline, but it did show good increases on the prior year.

There was no or little good news in the Family Interest and the Home sectors. Not one publication in the Family Interest sector had any increase on the previous quarter or on the prior year. Two publications were discontinued.

In the Home sector, Visi is the only publication to show any increase on the previous quarter, with Food & Home Magazine and SA Home Owner the only two with increases on the prior year.

In the Women’s General sector, out of 10 publications four increased over the previous quarter and two on the prior year. This is an improvement on Q3 of one more publication (three in Q3) with increases on the previous quarter.

Glamour saw its circulation fall on the previous quarter and the prior year with double figures.

Women’s Health has joined this category.

Arts, Culture and Heritage
PublicationFrequencyFree circulationTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
Jewish LifeMtly8,4508,450-0.6%0.2%
Val de Vie Magazine2xA0No Issue
Business and News
Financial MailWkly, Fr1,81814,893-4.4%23.4%
Forbes AfricaAltM4,97810,5693.1%14.7%
The Big Issue MagazineMtly126,88646.1%-7.1%
Conservation and Wildlife
African BirdlifeAltM1,4337,6492.6%21.4%
TV Plus (Afrikaans)F0Discontinued
TV Plus (English)F0Discontinued
Family Interest
HuisgenootWkly, Th4,01185,969-5.6%-18.4%
Plus 50 6xA4214,711-24.9%-11.3%
The Crest7xA0Discontinued
The Ridge8xA0Discontinued
YouWkly, Th2,85743,123-5.8%-20.1%
Farmer's WeeklyWkly, Fr5565,825-9.0%-6.6%
Grond tot MondQ32,46732,4671.4%No Issue
LandbouweekbladWkly, Th3614,443-1.7%29.4%
Veeplaas.11xA0Changed Sector
Health & Wellbeing
Grow to Eat3xA1,8878,801-39.4%-25.0%
Conde Nast House & GardenMtly4,4279,118-1.5%-22.9%
Easy DIYQ0Resigned
Food&Home MagazineQ4,34414,126-4.7%5.8%
Lose ItQ0No Issue
SA Home Owner11xA4,93416,044-11.3%4.6%
Sarie Kos / FoodQ20010,965-12.4%-17.0%
The Gardener / Die TuinierMtly2,70819,187-23.1%-14.8%
Tuis Home8xA1,20753,488-6.3%-14.3%
Let’s Braai / Kom ons Braai (former The Ultimate Braai)Ann0No Issue
Life & Style.4xA0Resigned
Men's Health6xA0No SubmissionNew Member
Popular MechanicsMtly0Ceased Publishing
Driven MagazineMtly6,5976,597-4.3%-14.5%
Baba & KleuterQ0No Issue
Baby's and BeyondQ8,1449,8066.6%3.2%
Things to do With Kids2xA0Resigned
Your Pregnancy and BabyAltM1,2254,796-14.1%-21.4%
Sport and Hobby
Compleat GolferMtly7,09010,78317.8%30.4%
SA RugbyMtly3,3017,70911.7%-24.2%
Travel, Tourism & Hospitality
Cape Etc3xA0No Issue
go! Drive & Camp and Weg! Ry & SleepAltM019,978-11.3%-19.2%
Weg / Go PlattelandQ6015,114-5.8%-15.4%
Woman's General
BONA MagazineMtly5,63913,287-6.5%-7.7%
Garden & Home MagazineMtly4,43514,1750.5%-9.2%
Rooi Rose MagazineMtly9,06429,199-0.3%0.5%
True LoveAltM1,50411,837-6.3%41.2%
Women & Home MagazineMtly5,69022,1500.2%-26.4%
Women's Health6xA0No IssueNew Member
Woman's Special
BruidsgidsAnn06,370New Member

B2B magazines

As is so often the case, the B2B category is a highlight.

Q4 saw the Health and Well-being sector with some good gains on the previous quarter and prior year, with three publications increasing on the previous quarter and three on the prior year.

Modern Medicine Magazine was the best of the lot - and also the best overall in the B2B magazines category – with double-figure increases on the previous quarter and prior year.

The Retail category disappointed once again - with DIY & Industrial Trade News declining with double figures on the previous quarter and the prior year. It was also the worst performer in the B2B Magazine category.

On the upside, 10 publications increased their circulation on the previous quarter and the prior year in this category.

PublicationFrequencyFree circulationTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
OVK Nuus/News4xA4,7054,705-1.1%-1.1%
SA Graan / GrainMtly21,03821,0380.3%-1.4%
Leading Architect & DesignAltM5,6685,703-1.9%-16.9%
SA Building ReviewAnn0No Issue
To Build4xA8,4449,795-0.1%-0.3%
Civil Construction
Construction WorldMtly17,36417,3641.0%5.2%
IMIESA11xA12,49812,498Changed Publisher3.1%
Spec HandbooksAnn0No IssueNo Issue
Future SA4xA0No Issue
SA ProfileAnn0No Issue
ServiceQ0No Issue
Electrical Engineering
Electricity & ControlMtly12,57812,578-9.4%-6.2%
ESI AfricaQ4,8604,8601.8%48.0%
Sparks Electrical NewsMtly15,11915,1191.3%6.7%
Engineering - Other
Capital Equipment NewsMtly13,81813,8180.8%8.2%
MechChem AfricaAltM10,84610,8461.3%10.4%
Motion ControlQ1,8541,854-8.3%-11.4%
Plumbing AfricaMtly13,17113,228-2.0%21.8%
Refrigeration and AirconditioningMtly8,0048,014-0.9%14.6%
SA Instrumentation & ControlMtly4,0464,046-3.7%-5.1%
Water & Sanitation AfricaAltM0No IssueChanged Publisher
Health and Wellbeing
Hi-Tech Security Solutions8xA3,8863,8860.9%-8.2%
Medical Chronicle11xA27,82227,822-1.2%3.7%
Modern Medicine MagazineAltM3,5514,01315.9%16.8%
South African Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Review11xA2,9742,979-0.3%-0.4%
The Specialist Forum Journal11xA23,61023,6104.6%8.1%
Hospitality, Catering and Tourism
MeetingsAltM0ResignedNo Issue
The Meetings & Event Planner (former SA Conference Directory)Ann0ResignedChanged Publisher
Analytical ReporterAltM5,0465,046-1.1%-8.7%
Cold Link AfricaAltM3,6143,6195.1%-13.4%
Free State Business, Ann4,9614,961No Issue-0.1%
Gauteng CompaniesAnn0No Issue
Lighting in DesignQ7,8267,8260.6%9.2%
Limpopo Business.Ann4,9434,943No Issue
Mpumalanga Business.Ann4,9554,955No Issue
Opportunity (Exploring Business Prospects in SA)Q4,9334,933No Issue0.2%
ResourceQ0Changed Publisher
South African Business2xA7,4317,431No Issue-25.2%
South African Food Review11xA3,8093,831-0.2%31.9%
The Journal of African BusinessQ4,9524,952-0.2%-0.2%
Western Cape BusinessAnn4,9394,939No Issue-0.2%
Information and Computer Technology
African DecisionsQ10,98912,8196.5%5.8%
Black Business QuarterlyQ35,49035,654-8.3%-4.4%
Blue ChipQ7,4477,447No Issue-58.7%
Business Day EarthAnn1,5508,850No Issue-55.3%
Business Day EmpowermentAnn2,55010,850No Issue-45.2%
FA NewsAltM2,7422,9110.5%-0.3%
KZN InvestQ0Discontinued
Money MarketingMtly6,6616,6622.0%-10.4%
South African Business Intergrator2xA8,6639,721-1.3%-0.9%
Mining & Quarrying
African Mines HandbookAnn1,4461,990No Issue0.5%
African Mining Inc. Mining Mirror11xA28,04728,108-3.6%33.2%
Engineering News & Mining WeeklyWkly, Fr12,22414,7360.3%16.1%
Inside MiningQ0Discontinued
Mining Review Africa.11xA4,8164,8163.0%3.3%
Modern MiningMtly14,53314,533-1.0%6.6%
Modern QuarryingQ7,0427,0420.7%8.7%
DIY And Industrial Trade NewsMtly8,9548,954-11.3%-12.8%
Pharmacy Magazine (former Frontshop)Mtly18,59718,597-1.5%17.7%
Transport and Logistics
Freight News FeaturesMtly5,8886,0945.4%-1.0%

Custom magazines

Of the 12 sectors in this category, 10 had at least one publication showing an increase on the previous sector, while 11 of the 12 had at least one publication with an increase on the prior year.

Both publications in the Leisure sector had increased on the previous quarter.

In-Flight Magazine continued with the good growth it had seen in Q3 with good increases on the previous quarter and the prior year.

SA Pharmaceutical Journal had the best increase on the prior year.

PublicationFrequencyFree circulationTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
Dairy Mail, The.Mtly1,3681,3733.5%18.3%
Health & Wellbeing
SA Pharmaceutical Journal10xA6,7956,795No Issue59.7%
South African Medical JournalMtly8,6898,8670.6%1.6%
Fresh Living Q0Resigned
Living SpaceMtly22436,915-5.4%-2.4%
My KitchenMtly74085,3283.2%13.9%
Industry Specific
Forum TydskrifQ0Resigned
J S EQ12,93214,447-0.3%1.5%
Sea Rescue3xA15,33915,339-9.5%-14.1%
In Flight MagazineMtly41,65341,6538.2%28.3%
Private EditionQ9,3809,3800.1%1.5%
Club MagazineMtly7,000241,055-3.7%-10.5%
Jet Club7xA0279,531No Submission20.0%
Sport and Hobby
Game & Hunt/Wild & JagMtly66,78868,022-0.4%-0.1%
SA Hunter/Jagter8xA0Resigned
Travel, Tourism & Hospitality
Rove SA4xA8,4129,778-4.1%6.2%
Woman's General
Balanced LifeMtly30044,537-7.7%-10.4%
Kids Super ClubMtly49069,238-2.9%-1.4%

Free magazines

As in Q3, this category had good results, with four of the nine publications showing increases on the previous quarter and four increasing on the prior year.

PublicationFrequencyTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
Botswana Advertiser.F99,965
Get It (Ballito to Umhlanga)Mtly12,2942.6%2.8%
Get It (Bloemfontein)Mtly6,890
Get It (Highway)Mtly11,8780.6%
Get It (Jo'burg South)Mtly14,750
Get It (Jo'burg West)Mtly13,8050.1%4.0%
Get It (Lowveld)Mtly6,200
Get It (Northern Suburbs Joburg)Mtly14,7810.8%0.2%
Get It (Pretoria)Mtly14,6530.3%

About Danette Breitenbach

Danette Breitenbach is a marketing & media editor at Previously she freelanced in the marketing and media sector, including for Bizcommunity. She was editor and publisher of AdVantage, the publication that served the marketing, media and advertising industry in southern Africa. She has worked extensively in print media, mainly B2B. She has a Masters in Financial Journalism from Wits.
Let's do Biz