Is the era of physical magazines over?

We’ve already seen the hatchet job the internet has done on newspapers – now magazines are following a similar trend.

Today, Bauer Media Group announced that Cleo magazine will close, after 44 years in print, and it’s looking at relaunching another magazine, Dolly, in purely digital format.

According to media reports (digital of course), the print edition of Dolly is certain to follow Cleo and stop print runs. Bauer shut down its lad’s mags Zoo Weekly in September 2015 following FHM which closed in 2012.

The Daily Telegraph is also reporting that sources have suggested a possible merger between Woman’s Day and the Australian Women’s Weekly could take place.

Cleo will release its last issue, the March edition on February 22. The magazine was launched by Kerry Packer and Ita Buttrose in 1972 and was considered edgy and controversial at the time, featuring male nude centrefolds and articles on sex and dating tips.

What has killed the magazines is the internet. Magazine content is virtually outdated once it has been edited, reviewed, published and distributed to resellers – a process that can take many weeks. With the internet, consumers have access to real-time information, stories and articles from multiple sources with different opinions and views almost instantly.

That has meant falling readership for magazines, and even though they seem to be mostly advertising these days (try counting the pages of advertising in Better Homes and Gardens – more than 100 the last time I counted), that can’t cover the cost to produce them.

Seven West Media Ltd (ASX: SWM) owns Pacific Magazines – Australia’s number two magazine published behind Bauer Media – and publisher of Better Homes and Gardens as well as New Idea, Men’s Health, Who and marie claire amongst others. But revenues for magazines fell last year by 8% to $209.2 million. 9 years ago, in 2006, Magazines made $241 million in revenues, so the downtrend is clear to see, despite the company claiming strong readership and market share.

Market share means virtually nothing if the whole market is getting smaller and heading to virtually nothing much like Fairfax Media Limited (ASX: FXJ) and News Corp (ASX: NWS) have found with their metropolitan print newspaper businesses.

Foolish takeaway

It seems clear that many magazines are destined to become digital only or wither away and die.

Motley Fool Pro is now open to new members

Our most comprehensive and innovative ASX investment service -- has reopened for a brief time, to accept new members. That means you've got the chance to follow along as one top investor puts $1,000,000 of The Motley Fool's own money to work...all in ASX stocks. But to get YOUR front-row seat, you must act NOW. (Please note: just 1,000 new member seats are available.)

Click here to claim YOUR invite!


Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

Two New Stock Picks Every Month!

Not to alarm you, but you’re about to miss a very important event! Chief Investment Advisor Scott Phillips and his team at Motley Fool Share Advisor are about to reveal their latest official stock recommendation. The premium “buy alert” will be unveiled to members and you can be among the first to act on the tip.

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by – this is your chance to get in early!

Simply enter your email now to find out how you can get instant access.

By clicking this button, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. We will use your email address only to keep you informed about updates to our website and about other products and services we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe from Take Stock at anytime. Please refer to our Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information.