Bauer Media today confirmed that its men’s magazine Arena will shut after 22 years, with the loss of up to 12 editorial and commercial jobs. The April edition, out next Thursday, will be its last, report Guardian.co.uk and PG. International editions in Turkey, Denmark, Ukraine, Thailand and Singapore will survive, as will a biannual sister magazine Homme Plus. Arena’s UK circulation for H208 actually increased 16.4 percent year on year to 29,374, according to ABC, but 11,800 of that was “controlled free distribution,” giving it a paid-for circ of just 17,071. And that really is meagre compared to its rivals and even Bauer’s other big men’s titles: FHM sold an average of 272,545 month, while Zoo sells 145,555 a week on average.
Who would bet against one or more men’s consumer titles going the same way this year? Many are suffering circulation declines: Dennis Publishing’s Maxim sold an average of 45,951 in H208, down 41.4 percent year on year, though slightly up on H108, and IPC Media’s Loaded sold 90,071, a 21.7 percent drop, to pick just two. Surely a sign of things to come is the success of the two free men’s magazines Shortlist and Sport, which on average distribute a combined 820,000 each week. Like DMGT’s free newspaper Metro, they are expanding out of London and are popular with advertisers.
But unlike with newspapers, there appears to be little or no debate over whether these big magazine brands can survive online without a print title — though many publishers run successful companion sites, the lion’s share of money comes from print advertising, sponsorships and events that rely on a magazine to support them. Hearst CEO Duncan Edwards says it’s the worst period of trading he can remember in 20 years with the company — and on today’s evidence that looks like a good approximation of the consumer mag sector as a whole.