Murdoch’s new Love It! for UK women
First of a series of magazines that will launch
January 19, 2006
Magazines may have their troubles in the U.S., but in Britain the sector is vibrant, with the last few years bringing a slew of successful new launches, particularly in the weekly women’s and men’s categories.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has noticed.
Murdoch is now gearing up to expand beyond newspapers and satellite TV to launch a string of new magazines through News International, the British arm of his operations. Over the coming months, a new magazine division intends to add at least three titles to its existing stable of one.
The first launch will be Love It!, a weekly women’s magazine arriving on newsstands on Feb. 7. Two more launches will follow, a home title in March and another as yet undisclosed women’s magazine in the autumn. More possible titles are being researched, although no other launches are planned at this point.
Why magazines? That’s where the growth is, says Augusta Barnes, publisher of Love It!
There is still a lot to play for in the magazine sector. It is common knowledge that newspapers’ circulation is static or in decline, so it makes sense for the company to operate in magazines as well.
When Love It! launches it will be entering into the so-called real life category. Aimed at working-class women aged 18-35, it will combine inspirational real-life stories with those on fashion, beauty and sex, including an advice column from a noted sexpert.
In Britain the weekly women’s magazine category, including the real-life segment, has grown hugely over recent years. Last year’s key launch, IPC’s Pick Me Up, saw circulation initially hit 500,000, for one of the most successful launches for a women’s magazine in recent years.
Murdoch is in absolutely the right area, says Tony Evans, managing partner of MindShare, a media shop owned by WPP. “You can see exactly why he wants to be there.”
Love It! is not this year’s only new entrant into the category. NatMags just launched Real People this month. Yet Love It!’s Barnes doesn’t think the category is too crowded. She says her title will target a neglected part of the sector: younger women.
What’s more, earlier launches in the category have helped grow it, bringing in new readers, and Barnes believes that will continue. She says independent research has shown that 11 million British women are interested in reading real-life stories but only 2.9 million buy magazines. That compares to the more crowded celebrity category where 4.5 million British say they are interested in celebrities and weekly sales are 3.5 million.
Love It! has a $15.3 million marketing budget and the ability to cross-promote with Murdoch’s newspapers, and indeed the weekend before the launch the maiden issue will be wrapped in with Murdoch’s Sun and News of the World newspapers. The initial aim is to hit a circulation of 400,000 a week by summer.
Less is known about the other new launches. But the company has said that the next title will launch on March 16. It will be a monthly home interest title and will be called Inside Out, which is also the name of one of News Corp.’s Australian titles. Like the company’s only current magazine, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, it will be branded with the name of Sunday Times, another one Murdoch’s British newspapers.
The company is revealing far less about the fall launch, other than that it will be another women’s title.
In the U.S., where Murdoch’s News Corp. owns Fox and the New York Post, the media tycoon has maintained a presence in magazines through an interest in TV Guide, but in the past his holdings have included New York magazine and the Village Voice.
In the UK, the feeling is that there will be more magazines from News Magazines, Murdoch’s new division, if not this year, then next. Media folks believe that the company is also well positioned to enter the weekly men’s market. Says MindShare’s Evans: The other men’s weekly publishers accept that there is room for another title, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them there.”
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