ABC reports: How the consumer cycling press fared in 2020

The annual Audit Bureau of Circulations reports are landing this week giving a snapshot of how the cycling press has performed in terms of sales and subscriptions for the past year.

It is worth noting that fewer publishers have run ABC audits over time as print circulations have been in general decline. This year, for example, Cycling Weekly has dropped its audit leaving increasingly few in the cycling press left visible in the round up. Titles have switched hands between publishers, multiple times in some cases, or consolidated over time. Digital edition purchases count towards the data.

For reference, prior data from 2018 and 2017 can be found here.

Cyclist, Via Dennis Publishing

Cyclist magazine saw an increase of 3.1% year-on-year, taking its circulation to 21,353, with digital subscriptions up 72.5% YoY. Around three quarters of sales were sold to subscribers, representing 15,275 copies, while off the shelf copy sales averaged 5,972 per issue.

With a cover price of £5.99, or annual subscription of £71.99, Dennis Publishing’s leading cycling title did especially well in H2 of 2020 with numbers rising well from early summer into the start of 2021. Digital edition readership averaged 5,426 with just over 50% of that tally overseas readers.

In 2018 Cyclist posted the shallowest decline of the publishers, dipping by 1.5% from an average circulation of 24,891 down to 24,514. Of those sales, the title averaged 12,069 paid copies and 12,259 subscription sales per issue.

James Tye, CEO, Dennis said: “Our strategy is a simple one: create content that really matters to people. Whether it is providing an open and balanced view of the news agenda, helping people grow and protect their wealth, fuelling their passions or simply helping them to do their job better, what we do is valued by our readers.

“Dennis has been a subscription business for many years and continues to place forming a direct relationship with our customers right at the center of our business model. Our fundamental subscriptions strength has allowed us to grow and maintain circulations during the past 12 months and as such we have declined to take the ABC Covid Exemption Certificate in order to provide full transparency.”

2020 also marked the launch of Dennis Publishing’s debut electric bike and micromobility title, Cycling Electric. This bi-annual title is not yet ABC audited.

Cycling Plus, Via Immediate Media

Publishing 13 issue per year, Immediate Media’s Cycling Plus achieved a per issue average circulation of 28,925, of which 19,564 were paid subscriptions and 9,388 were off the shelf single copy sales.

In terms of digital, an average of 8,648 copies were delivered in this format as opposed to 20,304 hard copies. Digital editions were read more overseas, tallying 4,643 reads, while in the UK & ROI digital made up 4,005 readers.

As far as costs go the per issue price is £5.99, while annual subscriptions cost £77.87, or £59.99 in the ROI. The September issue was the most actively bought, though the sales trends are broadly similar by month.

Previously in our 2018 round up the then Burda owned title had an average circulation of 37,077, down from 40,865 in 2017. Of that figure, 17,439 copies sold individually on the high street, while 19,638 were attributed to subscriptions. Of those issues actively purchased, the number of sales has been in steady decline since the July peak of 43,764 sales. The title did publish one more issue per year at the time.

Mountain Biking UK, Via Immediate Media

Mountain Biking UK tallied 6,960 paid single copies on average, per issue, while 14,505 subscribed to the 13 issue per year title. Of these 21,465 average issue purchases digital copies represented 4,273 copies, on average. A per issue cost of £5.99 puts the title in line with the rest of the market, as does its £77.87 annual fee.

In 2018 the title averaged a readership of 27,382, of which 2,165 consumed the magazine in digital format. Reflecting a rise in print costs the cover price has steadily risen from £4.99 in 2017 to £5.50 in 2018 and onwards to today’s forementioned value.