What is the current state of media distribution according to the ABC Quarter Three results? What is happening from a broader industry perspective?

As 2022 is sprinting to an end, the ABC released its Quarter Three results.

Price hikes and Shrinkflation, together with the ever-volatile petrol price and cost of living, are on everyone’s lips, and it is no different for the media and entertainment industry. Are they still feeling the pinch? Well, even after a bounce back period post-COVID, the answer is yes. The pressure is still on. On a positive note, though, publishers are keeping audiences engaged and holding their ground in many instances, albeit moving from print to digital or a combination thereof. So, good for you!

Digital is our star this quarter and drastically increased if we use 2020 as a benchmark to measure from:

The role and responsibility of publishers are not withering, as attractive and exciting cover pages, headlines, and quality content is an enormous responsibility to grab attention and interest. How vital and scientific are frontpages? If we are experiencing the same interested buyers, but they buy less frequently, very much so.

But are only consumer trends or publishers to blame for a battle to stay ahead? Consider a constant rise in paper prices due to COVID supply, KZN floods, amongst other reasons. With paper prices and printing and distribution requiring their own share of the margin, do publishers have another solution than to increase their cover price? If the cover price pushes through a ceiling of expected value vs cost, we witness changes in the market. These might be volumes dropping and publishers possibly strategically fighting back by cutting out a December edition, for example.

Although digital might be the ideal solution to cut printing costs and combat rising paper prices, publishers are challenged to convert digital to rand value. How does one leverage digital? Do you have tactics in place to entice digital purchases? What customer audiences still prefer printed versions of your publication? Are you considering these questions in your strategy? How do you create quality content without advertising or subscription (digital)?

However, strategies aside, the media print industry in South Africa is still vast. The country still distributes about 10 million registered ABC publications in a quarter.

A massive 6,5 million Newspapers were consumed in Quarter Three, which remains an impressive high consumption for a country like South Africa. 3.3 million magazines were consumed in the same timeframe. Thus, although media distribution in print looks to follow a slow downward trend, publishers maintain their creativity to stay in business which is vastly important and can be commended.

The overall decline of the media distribution portfolio this quarter is less than 5%, which indicates a healthy decline if you consider our current economic influencers.

In the Newspaper category, Dailies are down y-o-y, quarter-on-quarter by 9.8%, below the norm of 12% it used to be.

This quarter specifically, we saw Weekly and Hybrid Newspapers moving up from 2020 Quarter Three (local newspapers have been converting to hybrid newspapers), pushing into part free and part paid. As a result, the distribution numbers for local newspapers are decreasing, but hybrids are increasing. The Daily Maverick started as digital and went to print on Saturday and Sunday available on the shelf.

The Magazine category appears relatively flat; however, magazines like the Jet Club (custom category) and significant players still need to be declared, and publications still in circulation affect quarterly reporting. We will have kept the Q3 and Q2 2022 distribution reasonably stable if we compare estimated circulation, including those numbers.

Thirty-two (32) publications declared more than a 5% increase in circulation, while 42 reported more than a 5% decline.


The ABC is excited to welcome Bona Magazine in the Consumer Magazine sector, Public Sector Leader in The Digital business sector and the Supply Network Africa, digital magazine.

Updated in ABC suppliers

Narrative ceased operations and impacted the entire SA. From next quarter the ABC is investigating the use of Google Analytics to measure web traffic.

The measurement of digital publications is as essential as its printed counterparts. It will remain a necessary part of every marketer’s arsenal to work with ABC-registered publications to ensure they reach the intended numbers they are required to for their ROMI. The ABC remains the stamp of measurement and trust in providing transparent and accurate distribution data to marketers, media houses and advertisers.

If you are required to make accountable decisions for your brand’s advertising spend, ask for ABC membership and measurement.


To become a member and give your advertisers and marketers assurance through the endorsement of our ABC logo, visit www.abc.org.za.

Celéste Burger – ABC


The Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) is a non-profit company. The primary function of the ABC is the certification and provision of accurate and comparable circulation figures of printed (magazines and newspapers) and digital data (digital publications, email newsletter circulation and website traffic) as well as attendance at exhibitions and conferences. This is achieved through auditing standards, on the certificates and on the reports submitted. The ABC’s transparent and accurate data assists advertisers, marketers and publishers in the accountable decision-making of buying and selling of advertising and promotional material.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • LinkedIN
Tagged in