The way your average cyclist consumes media is changing. Be it digital subscriptions via tablets, good old fashioned print, or a bit of both, publishers are having to adapt. Mark Sutton examines the consumer mag market...
The Ride Journal
Industry favourite The Ride Journal is up to issue seven now, which doesn’t make it sound particularly old. Editor Phillip Diprose set about creating issue one five years ago, however and the magazine has put on weight every issue since the launch.
Diprose told BikeBiz: “We’ve tried to stop ourselves getting any bigger. It’s a case of balancing bigger being better with crippling escalating postage costs. As for the content we always try to offer something new. It would be really easy to rely on people we know are great, but that’s the quickest way to grow stale. This way we keep telling new stories, keep shining a light on new talent and hopefully keep people interested in a format that has remained pretty solid since issue one.”
The format remains the same, with a blend of riders both professional and amateur, celebrities with cycling stories, though The Journal remains open to ideas.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say getting to talk to Jens Voigt wasn’t a highlight,” said Diprose. “He’s the only rider I’d actually singled out as wanting for the journal and I finally got the chance to speak to him. I don’t normally get phased when it comes to talking to riders, but this was Jens Voigt. Thankfully he was just as great to chat with as I’d hoped.
“Of other ‘names’ we’ve got Sir Bradley and even Formula 1 star Mark Webber, but as ever it’s just as much about the everyday riders. People from all across the world with great tales to tell, photographers and artists who can capture a moment in a way you don’t usually see in cycling magazines.”
The Ride Journal is to ‘take a break’ ahead of issue eight, we’re told, with Diprose himself conceding that he hasn’t been able to ride as much as he’d like in recent years.
Cycle retailers are still very much part of bringing the magazine to market and any that would like stock should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, check out issues one through four, now free to download at theridejournal.com.
With the membership of the CTC constantly on the rise, so is the circulation of its magazine, which now goes out to 53,000 members six times per year. The CTC told BikeBiz that “many renew their membership just so the magazine hits their doormats”.
With many copies going out to cycle club members the organisation feels that its readership could be much larger too with copies often passed around. What’s more, research by the CTC suggests that the magazine is also highly regarded by women, with 24 per cent of its readership going out to female subscribers.
Now onto volume three and nearing two years since the issue one launch party, The Albion remains a popular free countertop BMX magazine in 20-inch specialist stores up and down the country.
The Albion now prints 9,000 magazines for UK, the Republic of Ireland and NI circulation per issue, as well as having opened its distribution up to the United States. Further to this, 2012 saw the publisher embrace digital, placing its back issues on web-flipbook Issuu, where it has since seen over 300,000 views.
Publisher Tim March told BikeBiz: “For 2013 we are going to be doing more of the same. We are very lucky to have the backing of the industry for what we do and without them we could not provide our readers with the quality media we produce, and they don’t have to spend money on a mag so they can keep their bikes running with the cash they save. We will continue to support bike shops, skateparks and specific retailers as they help grow their scenes at the grass roots level and beyond.”
To carry stock of the magazine all retailers need is an account with 4Down, Tabletop, Scoop, Snap, Seventies, Moore Large, Zeal, Boardroom, Shiner, or Elephant.
Velovision and Electric Bike Magazine
Both of Peter Eland’s titles this year switched to a three issues per year model, with both having grown a strong digital subscription following to back the print magazine’s presence.
Supplied on a free distribution model, Electric Bike magazine continues to concentrate on in-depth reviews of current models from the UK's leading suppliers, all immediately posted online, along with buying advice for beginners.
Paper copies are distributed at shows, through advertisers and electric dealers, as well as by direct subscription.
Eland told BikeBiz: “The free digital edition of the magazine attracts up to 60,000 reads per issue. The electric bike industry has been eager to support a specialist magazine covering their products and the title continues to grow. For 2013 the magazine will introduce 'dealer profiles' as an opportunity for specialist dealers to highlight their expertise.”
Velo Vision, meanwhile, is now into its 12th year of publication, covering specialist bikes such as tandems, cargo bikes, folders, recumbent and special needs bikes, with around 2,500 print copies per issue, plus 500-odd digital subscribers split across 47 countries. It continues to enjoy strong support from advertisers worldwide in these sectors.
“We had an exciting 2012, with success in every part of the business and 2013 is already looking good too.” Farrelly Atkinson publishing director Simon Stansfield remains optimistic for the relatively young, yet hugely successful Road.cc, which has quickly become one of the industry’s favourites for road cycling content.
Figures seen by BikeBiz show that the explosive growth continues, with monthly unique users once again doubling year-on-year to over 500,000 and monthly page views per month over 2.2 million.
Stanisfield continued: “In 2012 we launched our Buy It Local buttons. These help distributors and brands point consumers towards their local IBD. The idea has been embraced by: Giant, 2Pure, Upgrade, Paligap, Moore Large, Zyro, Trek, Saddleback, Specialized, Hotlines, Merida, Raleigh and Bianchi. Buy It Local is part of our commitment to making on-line publishing work for every sector of the bike business and mirrors our users' commitment to supporting local bike shops, a fact that came out loud and clear in our 2012 user survey.”
Another exciting and well adopted development has been the Fantasy Cycling game, which has expanded in 2012 to cover more races on both the free and premium versions.
Of this Stansfield said: “For 2013 we've once again massively uprated the game with new features and functionality. It's already proved a big hit with January seeing more premium sign ups than in the whole of 2012.”
The icing on the cake? Road.cc was for the third year running voted the bicycle trade’s favourite consumer website in the BikeBiz Awards, as well as claiming a gong for its use of social media in a separate ceremony.
Farrelly Atkinson is of course a contract publisher too and continues to produce Cyclescheme's Cycle Commuter magazine, as well as providing content for Cyclescheme.co.uk, which sees around 200,000 unique users per month.
The publisher also produced print and digital content for the likes of Specialized Concept Stores and Trek, among others.
One year on from Singletrack HQ announcing a shake up of its distribution strategy, the publisher tells BikeBiz it’s in better shape than ever. With subscribers now able to access the magazine in any form they choose for a one off fee, be it print or digital, the readership has continued to grow.
Despite print magazines generally declining in sales, Singletrack still hasn’t got the memo, with subscribers to the relaunched, heavier stock magazine still on the rise.
Editor Chipps Chippendale told BikeBiz: “Meanwhile, in the digital realm, Singletrack launched an iPad edition of the magazine to compliment its existing digital 'replica' magazines. This is designed to work with the new, smaller, digital readers without the viewer having to pinch and zoom to get things legible. The advantage of this new format is that advertisers can also offer bespoke adverts with interactivity, multiple galleries and live links to their websites.
“The idea for the printed magazine was to produce a more expensive, lavish magazine aimed mainly at subscribers. With more subscribers there's less paper wastage, so the cost is partly absorbed by having to throw fewer of them away. The new-look Singletrack got admiring comments from readers and the trade alike. “
Farrelly Atkinson’s Elaine Curtin continues to manage Singletrack’s online advertising, which saw significant growth over the past 12 months. In the past month (Google Analytics 8th Jan -7th Feb 2013) Singletrackworld.com had 1,144,506 unique visitors, generating a massive 10,370,318 page impressions in that one month.
The Merged has quickly become the No.1 BMX product-only website, with editor Dave Paterson recently telling BikeBiz that he’s astounded that in a few short years he’s had to do less and less looking for product news, instead waking to find a full inbox of the latest product prototypes.
Paterson said: “Building on our growing online popularity in 2011, we relaunched the site and partnered up with four other well respected websites to work together and collectively bring readers the best news and coverage in BMX. The new site is now updated daily with the latest new and prototype products in the industry. We work very closely with all the brands in the sport with most of the content being sent to us directly, meaning readers get all the product gossip and news faster than anywhere else. In addition to dropping a large amount of exclusive ‘first look’ content, we also took on advertising from BMX companies such as Cult, Fit Bike Co, WeThePeople, Sunday Bikes and many more which was a huge step forward from simple Wordpress blog it was back in 2010.
“This year we plan on working with brands on more exclusive product based reviews, tests, interviews and sneak peeks. We will be attending Interbike in Las Vegas this year where we will be providing our own closer and more in-depth first look at all the new BMX products that will be shown for the first time there. Big thank you to everyone who supports the site, 2013 should be fun!”
As you’d expect from high-end cycling literature publisher Rouleur, 2012 was a busy year and 2013 isn’t likely to be one for resting on their laurels either.
In fact, Publisher Bruce Sandell outlined to BikeBiz a three point plan for this year. The first will be an investment in a new website due this summer. Key to this launch, the shopping experience will be upgraded, as will the site’s focus on content.
Next on Sandell’s list and described as ‘core to the strategy for the business’ is investment in improving the subscriptions model to both Rouleur and Privateer.
Last of all, further staff are expected to be required to assist the expansion, with a full time marketing position having boosted the team in 2012. This year extra editorial staff join the team, as well as staff to assist in the growth of sales.
2012 saw the publisher sign a deal with Bloomsbury Publishing, vastly furthering the reach for Rouleur managed titles, such as Michael Barry and Camille J McMillan’s Le Metier (3rd Edition), Rouleur Annual Volume 6 and the Herbie Sykes’ Coppi.
“The relationship with Bloomsbury gives us more reach into the traditional book trade and clout on international – expect to see some international editions of our books in 2013,” said Sandell. “We have two books out in the spring – the second edition of Herbie Sykes’ Maglia Rosa and Guy Andrews’ Bike Mechanic.”
Of the staple magazine product, Sandell added: “2012 further established Rouleur Limited and our publications positioning at the ‘premium end ‘of the cycling market – with a high spending, very loyal and passionate audience. Both Rouleur and Privateer appeared on the UK newsstands throughout 2012 – within WHSmith High Street, WHSmith Travel and selected high-end independents. Like you would expect from our publications, we selected only the best outlets in our partner’s estates – this year will see us expand this reach into Waitrose, Booths and Easons amongst others using the same rationale.
“While expanding our reach on the newsstand – we continue our focus on selling via IBD’s, with a raft of new retailers coming on board in 2012. We will launch a new display unit in spring 2013, exclusively for bike dealers.”
With digital and the subscriptions model very much in the frame for investment for 2013, it’s no surprise to learn that in the summer of 2013, Rouleur will be launching a deluxe version of both magazines. This will be bundled with print subscriptions – so a subscriber has three options: print or digital only and a print and digital bundle.
Further to all of those developments and as hinted at in previous articles, BikeBiz is told Rouleur will finally be launching a consumer facing show for spring 2014.
Having recently moved its entire operation under the 1 West Smithfield Street roof, with the design services of professional BMX rider Leo Forte, Factory is now kitted out with bespoke studios, fresh offices and seemingly some fresh ideas.
Having ‘soft launched’ TotalWomensCycling.com on January 8th of this year, traffic is said to have seen around 20,000 visits in the first month. Publisher James Carter told BikeBiz: “TotalWomensCycling.com aims to be the voice of the growing community of female cyclists, with smart writing, inspirational stories, clear how-to’s and jargon-free buying advice.”
Also new for 2013 will be the addition of an editorial hub in Monmouth, where staff will manage full blown bike testing, new content streams, casual rides and socials.
With most publishers gaining the most ground by embracing the digital age, Factory’s entire 26-title portfolio is now available on Apple and kindle devices. Blackberry and Google Play compatibility will launch at the end of Q2.
Carter said of the digital advances: “The success of this opportunity to gain extended distribution has been significant, with total volumes reaching over 30,000 last month and Dirt magazine leading the way in sales for Factory Media.”
Dirt underwent a re-design in 2012 and is now printed on a heavier paper stock to emphasize the photography. The bulk of Dirt’s technical reviews are now posted directly to the website to better keep up with the pace of the web. On the print front, issue one of a German version has just been printed, with the publisher’s sights set on further international expansion.
Remaining with big wheels, Bike Magic is now under the stewardship of James Mcknight, who has overseen the introduction of a structured editorial plan. Since his appointment, Factory claim that time spent on the website has increased on average by an extra two and a half minutes per visit.
On to the 20-inch specialist magazines, for which Factory has Dig, Ride UK, BMX Basics and BMX Talk and the publisher has again altered its strategy to move with the demands of its audience.
Dig BMX, now in its 20th year, re-launched with an improved paper stock and tweaked distribution model whereby bike shops are the key beneficiary’s. Despite being sold on the news stands, bike shops are able to carry the magazine free of charge.
Race title BMX Talk now claims to have 15,000 registered members and a growing audience. Content partnerships with UCI have boosted coverage, overseen by editor Marco Dell’Isola.
Among other highlights for the publisher, Ride UK earned a SocialBakers ‘best use of social media’ gong. Meanwhile Road Cycling UK’s highlight would be the claim to have grown it returning visitor base by over 60 per cent in the last 12 months.
IPC’s flagship weekly road cycling title produces 51 issues per year, each sold at £2.99. The title posted an average of 28,834 copies per issue for the period running January 1st 2012 to December 31st 2012.
IPC’s premium monthly round up of the world of professional cycling now retails at £4.50, making it the most expensive of our audited titles on shelves.
It’s obviously well loved among tarmac going cyclists though, significantly upping its average print circulation from 16,507 last year, to 21,495.
Mountain Bike Rider
IPC’s flagship off road title comes in at £4.40 per issue now. Posting one of the largest print declines of our audited cycling titles, the magazine dipped its average circulation from 28,204 last year, to 23,679 this year.
This £3.99, 13-issue per year, title posted an average 25,004 readers per issue. This is a 13.3 per cent increase in reader circulation year-on-year.
What Mountain Bike
Future’s more grown up mountain biking title posted an increase in average circulation when you take into account digital sales. Last year’s overall figure came in at 14,009 as an average per issue. This time around the print figure sat at 13,870, while digital sales added 2,204, totalling an average of 16,074. The cover price is now £4.35 per issue.
Dave Clutterbuck, group publisher for sports, said: “What Mountain Bike's performance is outstanding − in the depths of a recession, this title has delivered double digit growth with its laser-like focus on buying advice, trusted reviews and product news.”
The UK’s most read mountain biking magazine, like many other Future titles has stats for both print and digital this year. The £4.35 print magazine sold an average of 38,701 per issue, with an additional 2,775 digital copies bought, meaning the total figure per issue sits at 41,476. Last year’s total figure was 39,497.
Clutterbuck said of this title: “The investment made in research and development of this title continues to pay off. Now in its 25th year, it is still the most relevant and engaging mountain biking magazine in the UK.”
Future’s still young triathlon title pulled in an average print circulation of 12,150 per issue, with a further 2,289 in digital sales, totalling 14,439 as an average circulation per issue. This equates to a 24.5 per cent growth in readership year on year.
BikeBiz Award-winning Cycling Plus has breached the 50,000 mark, recording a combined digital and print circulation of 50,015, making it the UK’s most-read monthly road cycling title.
Richard Schofield group publishing director for sports, says: “It’s been another storming year for Cycling Plus where we’ve added more readers than any other road cycling magazine and, with our enhanced tablet and digital editions, we now reach over 50,000 cyclists with every issue.”
Cycling Plus editor Rob Spedding added: "We're thrilled to see the road cycling sector continue to grow. Cycling Plus is certainly holding it's own and that's despite some fresh competition on the market. Print and digital figures combined sees our circulation break through 50,000 for the first time and we're incredibly pleased about that. It's encouraging to see digital sales increase by over 300 per cent in the past year too, which shows the consumers are increasingly tech savvy."
Cyclingnews.com reached an average of 1.9 million monthly unique users and served an average of 37 million page views per month during the same period.
There has been significant growth in the brand reach during 2012. The social media footprint is up 101 per cent on Twitter to 182,817 followers, and Facebook up 66 per cent to 190,371 fans. The combined Youtube channels have almost six million views and 15,000 subscribers.
BikeRadar.com averaged 2.1 million unique users per month in 2012 and delivered an average of 24 million monthly page views.