Digital magazine circulations 2022: ABC results

Digital consumer magazines saw a circulation increase of 22% in 2022, according to new ABC data.

The combined average circulation of titles reporting digital data separately to ABC increased from 2.5 million in 2021 to 3.1 million in 2022.

Three-quarters (75%) of 2022 digital copies were actively purchased – i.e. excluding free, membership and multiple copies.

In the UK and Irish digital markets, circulation was up 45% from 1.1 million in 2021 to 1.6 million last year.

Titles can choose to audit their digital and print editions separately or provide ABC with a combined print and digital number. This analysis includes only titles that report digital data separately. Where there is a separate digital ABC certificate the figures are not de-duped (meaning they include bundled subscriptions where readers have more than one format included in the price).

Of the 138 titles that reported global digital data to ABC in both 2021 and 2022, 46 saw their circulation increase year-on-year, two remained unchanged, while 90 recorded a fall.

The overall increase in digital circulation in 2022 was driven by first time reports in 2022 for 13 titles as well as big growth for some names. Among titles reporting in 2022 for the first time was The Economist’s relaunched daily briefing app Espresso (12,546 global digital sales) and beauty brand Look Fantastic’s digital title The Highlight (146,599).

Among the biggest year-on-year growers were Immediate Media’s BBC Science Focus, which increased digital circulation 131% from 17,686 to 40,892, and Bauer’s Car magazine which grew by 56% from 21,317 to 33,222.

At the other end, titles with the biggest digital falls included Hearst-owned Women’s Health (down 34% to 15,188), Runner’s World (down 30% to 7,381) and Real Homes (down 23% to 10,476).

While most magazines report data once a year for the full calendar year, for titles that report more than once per year we have taken their latest ABC report and made like-for-like comparisons with the same period in 2021.

Overall, the biggest title by digital circulation size by a large margin in 2022 was the Economist which topped the one million mark to sell 1,012,592 digital editions globally (a 2% increase year-on-year). Its UK/ROI sales represent a relatively small proportion of its overall footprint (158,913 copies or 16% of global sales).

Among titles that are mostly actively purchased as opposed to given away for free, the next largest in terms of digital circulation were BBC Science Focus (40,892), Time Magazine’s EMEA edition (40,431) and Hello! (36,142).

Overall, the news and current affairs sector fared well, taking six of the top ten spots among actively purchased digital magazines. New Scientist (worldwide circulation of 35,627 excluding Australasia and US/Canada which are reported separately), The Spectator (34,164 excluding Australia), Time Magazine’s APAC edition (30,088) and Money Week (26,400) were all in the top ten.

Looking at year-on-year changes on a sector-by-sector basis, men’s lifestyle (where combined average circulation was up 17% year-on-year), countryside and country (up 9%) and motoring and motorcycling (up 5%) fared the best.

Magazine digital circulation 2022: Selected sector by sector round-up and full table of all titles below

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