Sky cools on UK’s most read magazines. But what does their closure mean for publishing?


Huge news this morning from Sky which has anounced that it is to massively cut its magazine output. The hero brand for customer publishing for many years now is to close Sky Sports Magazine and Sky Movies Magazine, which are each published every two months and have a combined circulation of nearly eight million copies, and reduce the distribution of its flagship Sky Magazine, which has an average circulation of 7.3 million copies, and its frequency from 12 issues per year to four.

The magazines will be replaced by email and reflects the company’s shift from print based promotion throught to digtial products. There is also some speculation that rising paper prices and the increased cost of postage might have forced the company’s hands.

Sky Magazine has been a poster publication for the customer publishing industry for many years now. It was produced by John Brown Publishing but is now put together in house. The Sky Movies mag is however produced externally by Future Publishing.

So where does this leave the customer publishing industry? Well while losing a flagship title is clearly a blow, the industry as a whole has never been stronger. February saw a host of new wins for agencies including some imaginative social media driven projects… You can read more about new projects here It seems that print projects are not dying, but are being used in a more strategic way. In some respects customer publishing agencies will probably be the last companies producing print magazines. They may have to deal with rising print and mail costs but a business model in which many of those costs are met by the brand is obviously a lot more robust than one in which the cost of magazine is met by advertising (on a downward spiral) and consumer purchasers (also struggling in many areas according to the latest ABCs).

So I don’t think that Sky’s decision will have a huge impact on the industry as a whole. The leading supermarket magazines are still posting very healthy figures and many brands still see print as the premium way of engaging with consumers. Sky’s magazines were always more vulnerable given their huge circulation and the fact they offered TV listings which are available in many other places.

There is also the emergence of digital opportunities for customer publishing agencies namely video content, iPad magazines, blogs as well as websites. It is these opportunities which are keeping my agency Sutro very busy indeed.

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