Ants ate the readership

OK,put these together. / Comment & analysis / Comment – Digital ants wreck the music industry’s picnic

This can happen because the traditional benefits of marketing scale are a little less relevant in a Google age. Power is shifting from aggregators to navigators. In other words, those that collected creative works and stood between the creator and the audience – studios, broadcasters and record companies – are losing their primacy to those that help you find the content.

What has happened in television illustrates the force that is affecting every traditional media company. Each new entrant is an ant at the picnic; enough ants and the picnic ends. Google is an ant trail enhancer and change is not sudden, but gradual, crumb by crumb.

Adam Singer (he used to work at Telewest) with an interesting take on how disaggregation is affecting content industries. He wrote it about the music business, but you could narrow your eyes and put “newspapers” or “radio” in there too. Does it apply though to films? (Article probably paywalled by now. But this is the key paragraph.)

And then, seen at the Fullrunner:

The latest in a long series of grim circulation statements for newssta computer titles emerged last week.

According to Media Week, ABC data showed the aggregate circulations of six PC business titles declining by 14.8% YOY. The relevant titles releasing data for 6-month or 12-month periods ending on 31st December 2005 included PC Pro, Computer Buyer and Computer Shopper from Dennis; PC Plus from Future; and VNU’s Personal Computer World.
Personal Computer World, the VNU monthly, suffered a particularly nasty drop, down by 18.3% to 76,020. PC Pro, published by Dennis, declined by 5.5% YOY to 102,010.

The circulation of so-called PC leisure titles fell, on average, by 15.3%. ABC’s definition of “PC leisure” titles includes Custom PC (Dennis); Microsoft Windows XP, PC Answers and PC Format (Future), as well as PC Live (Mediateam).

Relatively speaking, there were a few bright spots. VNU’s Computeractive, the biggest print title in the sector, saw its circulation drop by a mere 1.3% YOY to 233,060. Future’s Mac Format recorded a pleasing 13.5% jump in circulation to 17,191. (Interestingly, Dennis Publishing’s MacUser dropped 7.3% to 18,906.)

(Media Week | Free access):

The internet magazine sector continued to dwindle toward extinction. According to the ABC, the circulation of Internet-focused newsstand magazines is declining by nearly 20% YOY.

I think we can take it that people are buying fewer of these general-purpose magazines. Question: what are they buying? Anything?

My guess is – broadband access. And getting their news and other kicks online. Why wait for a monthly magazine when the same content could have been online, analysed, picked apart and revised and turned over six weeks earlier? As for a weekly internet magazine – as people get online more, who’s it appearing to? I’m only amazed that there are 76,000 people who are prepared to shell out on PCW.

And for the Mac mags – MacFormat rose (by those numbers) from 15,146 while MacUser fell from 20,395: aggregate market moves from 35,541 to 36,907 – up by a whole 1,450 copies aggregate! Woo-hooo! Or something. (Though is MacUser fortnightly? That complicates it – from 55,936 total monthly to 55003, which is actually a fall of 900-odd, or about 2%.)

Still, look at Computeractive – still selling nearly a quarter of a million. That’s remarkable, I’d say.


  1. Actually, total UK sales of magazines in the last set of ABCs showed an overall 2% rise in circulation. Women’s weekly titles are still thriving at half a mil each.

  2. What’s most interesting, then, is that magazines for people who don’t know how to make the most of their computers are holding. But I’d imagine once they’re confident enough to sail the cyber seas themselves, they’re not buying anything – there’s no more need. ComputerActive, therefore, is costing the print sector readers – if they didn’t know how to get on(line), the print industry could keep them off it.

  3. Oops. Clearly I need to read ComputerActive – missed the ‘c’ off .com in the above post. Sorry!

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