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Peter Phippen, Managing Director
BBC Worldwide’s well established magazines business had a strong year despite turbulence in the UK industry and
continuing challenges in the advertising market.
|Share of joint ventures||14.4
|Radio Times, Specialist, Lifestyle||13.2
|Share of joint ventures and associates||0.1
The weekly upmarket TV listings magazine Radio Times continues to be BBC Magazines’ flagship title, reaching over 2.7m readers a week (National Readership Survey, Jul-Dec 2007).
BBC Magazines also owns a wide range of quality specialist monthlies and is the UK’s leading publisher of children’s magazines. In addition to publishing 52 regular print titles,
the business manages the majority of BBC Worldwide’s passion websites, working with Digital Media to ensure these offer the latest functionality and best user experience.
The business delivered sales of £177.9m, up 3.9% year on year and a very strong performance when set in the context of the industry climate.
Children’s titles provided the biggest uplift, thanks mainly to the popularity of Doctor Who Adventures. While profits from existing operations
increased, the business invested an additional £5.9m in improving its existing websites, launching a new website and new magazine titles, and
in developing its Indian joint venture Worldwide Media. This led to total profits falling by 16.5% year
on year to £16.7m.
UK – PRINT AND ONLINE
In a year that saw overall circulations declining in key sectors such as men’s lifestyle and gardening, BBC Magazines has continued to thrive
and innovate. It remains the UK’s third-biggest consumer magazine publisher.
BBC Magazines’ circulations grew overall with year-on-year Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) figures up 6.7%. Top Gear and Olive were particularly successful
with year-on-year circulations up 5.4% and 25.3% respectively. The children’s titles were up 5.8% year on year, with Top of the Pops Magazine and Doctor Who Adventures recording particularly good
average copy sales of 125,000 and 155,000 respectively (ABC Jul-Dec 2007).
The business has a long-held strategy of investing in lifestyle and specialist magazines and aiming to publish the market leader in each
sector. Where markets are relatively small, titles are published out of BBC Magazines Bristol, which has a cost base and processes suited to
more niche titles. Circulations of four of the six audited Bristol titles grew year on year, including BBC History and science title Focus,
with BBC Wildlife and BBC Music remaining stable.
Five new print titles were launched in 2007/08. For younger children there were Charlie & Lola and In the Night Garden, the latter
achieving an excellent debut circulation of 110,000 (ABC Jul–Dec 2007). In March 2008 a football title for 8-14 year olds was launched
linked to the BBC’s Match of the Day brand, and early signs are very encouraging. Countryfile and Who Do You Think You Are? were launched
by BBC Magazines Bristol for the adult market. Six small children’s titles were closed as part of the continuous review of the overall
Advertising sales were held level with 2006/07 despite very testing market conditions – a 2.7% decline across all consumer
magazines (Advertising Association Forecast; NMR). BBC Magazines’ advertising sales team maintained share in its core markets (14.7% in 2008;
14.9% in 2007).
Subscriptions to BBC titles rose by 12.9% during the year, reflecting BBC Magazines’ continued strategic focus on this route to market. Radio Times
subscriptions grew by 26.3% year on year to 97,500. The total number of BBC Magazines subscriptions now stands at 739,000, of which 39.6% are by
direct debit. Fulfilment is managed by Dovetail, a joint venture with Dennis Publishing, which grew revenues by 9.0% and is now making a profit.
BBC Haymarket Exhibitions, a joint venture with Haymarket Exhibitions, mounted four consumer events in 2007/08, one of which was a new show, The BBC
Summer Festival, that attracted over 120,000 visitors.
Working with Digital Media, Magazines developed gardenersworld.com into a full consumer website and additional functionality was incorporated into both radiotimes.com
and bbcgoodfood.com, the latter showing a 59.1% increase in global unique users in the year. In addition, bbcgreen.com was launched for people seeking practical guidance
on how to pursue an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Progress was made in expanding international activity in BBC Worldwide’s main target markets. Worldwide Media, a joint venture with
Times of India, one of the leading Indian publishing houses, is continuing to thrive on the back of high market growth in the territory.
Existing titles were developed and two new titles launched.
In March 2008 a joint venture was announced with ACP, Australia’s leading consumer magazine publisher. Initially the company will publish the
Australian edition of Top Gear magazine, linking to the new TV show on SBS (see Global Brands). Australian Good Food magazine will launch in 2008/09.
A new title, BBC Knowledge, which offers a range of articles linked to BBC factual programming, was developed by BBC Magazines Bristol for the US market
and will be available from summer 2008.
The overseas licensing team increased sales by 14.7% and there were 39 licensed editions of BBC titles published in 57
territories by year-end.
BBC Worldwide expects its market-leading magazine brands to continue to be robust in the context of ongoing challenging UK trading conditions in 2008/09. It will progress
its strategy of driving international growth, developing richer and deeper relationships with its consumers, including through subscriptions, and launching print magazines and
online sites that exploit the BBC’s programming and, internationally, other content.