Celebrity magazines feel the heat as gossip sites boom

The Brangelina twins have arrived, Madonna will enter her sixth decade tomorrow and we are in the midst of the latest series of Big Brother. But despite the glut of celebrity gossip, sales of celebrity magazines have hit the buffers.

Titles such as Heat!, Closer and Reveal saw their sales plunge, in the latest figures from the Audited Bureau of Circulation.

The success of gossip websites, the economic downturn and growing apathy towards Big Brother were responsible for the collapse, industry experts said.

Heat! magazine's sales fell under the half a million mark to 470,129 for the six-month period to the end of June – 11.8 per cent down on the previous six months, and a 15.8 per cent decline on the 558,365 copies it recorded one year ago. The rival celebrity title Reveal fared worst of all, losing just over a fifth of its circulation, down from 347,257 last year to 277,002. Closer magazine fell by 7.5 per cent on last year, while Love It! fell by 7.1 per cent.

Hello! bucked the trend, no doubt helped by winning the rights to show the first pictures of the new twins of the Hollywood A-listers Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, earlier this month. The title increased its cover price to £2.50 from its usual 50p for the special edition, which contained 17 pages of glossy images of Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline. Its circulation rose to 427,054 at the end of June, 8 per cent higher than the previous six-month period and 1.7 per cent up on a year ago.

OK! magazine's circulation was up by 9 per cent on last year at 607,048.

Mark Gallagher, executive director at media agency Manning Gottlieb, said the glossies had been knocked sideways by the evaporating interest in Channel 4's reality television show.

"Big Brother is massive for these titles and it just hasn't been a water-cooler conversation topic this time round," said Mr Gallagher. "That will have had a significant impact on sales. Consumers may have also realised that these magazines are very similar in content. It could be that the same number of consumers are now buying less titles. The sector has simply peaked."

Paul Grainge, a media expert at Nottingham University, said the drop might be attributable to a squeeze on readers' disposable income: "The magazine market is very unstable and it would come as no surprise if tough economic conditions were to blame."

The internet plays a role: websites such as Popbitch, Perez Hilton and TMZ are popular for their waspish, regularly updated content. "There is a real generational change going on at the moment and many young consumers are using websites for their gossip," said Ellis Cashmore, author of the book Celebrity Culture. "These sites are updated several times a day and are free. Consumers may not see any point in buying a copy of Heat! or Hello! at the end of the week."

He added: "Although circulation is falling, it has to be remembered that in most cases they are falling from a very high starting point as they have had a lot of early success."

The publicist Max Clifford said: "I think the celebrity magazine market is suffering from a credibility problem. Readers are beginning to realise that so much of what is in them is fiction, which lessens the excitement of buying them. Celebrity culture is not on the wane, though. You only have to look at the number of people who queue up at auditions of reality TV shows in the hope of becoming celebrities themselves."

A report by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising last month showed that advertisers were moving away from traditional media, opting instead for the internet. It found companies were ditching advertising in magazines, newspapers, radio and television during the second quarter of 2008 in favour of the internet.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
music
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn