Coffee House

Sales of The Spectator hit all-time high in 2015

11 February 2016

12:00 PM

11 February 2016

12:00 PM

The magazine industry publishes its sales figures today, and we at The Spectator are delighted to announce the largest figure in our 188-year history. And not just because digital sales are doing well: it’s growth on every front. Sales of the print edition of The Spectator are growing at their fastest rate for 15 years. Subscriptions, perhaps our single most important indicator, are up almost six per cent year-on-year. Our web traffic stands at a record high, with an average 1.9 million visitors per month last year, and is rising so fast that our standard monthly figure is now 2.5 million. Many of them are discovering The Spectator for the first time; many of them are getting hooked. And, in this way, the digital era has taken The Spectator to the start of the most successful period in its long history.

Seeing as we’re on Coffee House, let’s start with digital. Here’s our traffic: we had 60.8 million pageviews last year, and 20.5 million unique users.

We have, in Coffee House, Britain’s best political blog. But the website is more than that: it serves as an introduction to The Spectator. We now generate almost a third of our traffic from social media – which has become the new newsstand. Once, you’d decide if you liked The Spectator while thumbing through an edition in a newsagent. Now, people are recommended our journalism by friends and then browse through the website to see what they like. If you browse often enough, we ask you to join us and subscribe. And it works. We hit our record during the summer, as I blogged at the time, and in the second half of last year, total sales hit 63,788.

We saw people switching from print to digital – especially those who live abroad and prefer the instant delivery of our superb iPad edition. But this seems to have bottomed out two years ago: now print is recovering, up 5pc year-on-year. And even this sales figure doesn’t show our full reach. When you include issues bought by the more discriminating airlines, and various other forms of circulation, then our ABC certificate for the second half of last year shows a headline figure of 79,819. (You can see the full breakdown here). Of this, the total print figure is 64,484 – and we’ll be one of the few publications in Britain for whom this figure is actually rising.

And even the ABC figure doesn’t include all of what The Spectator now does. Our events division is going from strength to strength: last year the number of events exceeded the number of magazines published. Like the website, our events are an extension of The Spectator and reflect what we’re about: high-quality debate and cask-strength opinions. Most of our events sell out.

Our podcast is often so popular that more people listen to The Spectator than read the magazine. We’ll be doing more of them this year: Jeremy Clarke, our Low Life correspondent, is going to have his own podcast. Our strapline for these podcasts is: ‘Writers worth listening to’.

We at The Spectator have never believed in a tension between print and digital. Our belief is that, if you get the journalism right, all else will follow. And if you produce journalism that is not just better but significantly better than what’s free on the web, people will pay for it. A business model based on subscriptions (rather than pageviews) is the surest guarantor of journalistic quality.

Much is said about the supposed decline of journalism; especially print. Here at The Spectator we’re celebrating a print revival and the start of what is now the most successful period in the magazine’s history. This has only happened because you, our readers and subscribers, have made it happen – so thank you.

Show comments
  • commenteer

    I buy a subscription because of your excellent Christmas offer including a bottle of champagne. Brilliant marketing strategy.

  • C-4

    Sticking with Disqus + open comment sections – far-left bias = more visitors.

    Mess with this equation, and you will suffer the same fate as your peers.

  • No Man’s Land

    Well done, it’s an excellent publication. It offers something that the newspapers and internet don’t, namely a considered digest of current affairs rather than a bombardment of rolling news and click bait.

  • Jupiter

    How about bringing Mark Steyn back?

  • William Matthews

    Well done. I think I was lured into the Spectator by Douglas Murray. I saw him debating Islam on TV, which was hugely informative and dare I say entertaining, so followed him on Twitter, then I found the Spectator. I’m very pleased I did.

  • Hell+Handcart

    Don’t subscribe online but buy the mag all the time – quality although I may not agree with every article. Worth it for the Liddlemeister & Murray alone

  • London Calling

    3 Points

    Congratulations.Hip Hip Hooray….

    Shame the Coffe House has taken the Times route of fading out on all articles (now read on) to gain subscription. This has been a recent change and in my view stifles free journalistic speech
    and in doing so also has a knock on affect as it stifles thoughtful debate on the public comments section in return. The telegraph at least allows a number of free views per month. I suggest the Spectator coffee house do the same, which is a warmer welcome to new readers, whilst at the same time promoting subscription.

    Labour (Jeremy) bashing is I suppose to be expected here on the Spectator. However the manic articles more often salivates rather than informs. Media in general follows this, I expect a more neutral unbiased and balanced view on all political subjects from the Spectator. I remember a time Fraser when you claimed the Spectator was not a right wing Magazine, for which you came under extreme criticism from coffee house commentators. I admired you deeply for this and respect the fact that you do hold David Cameron ect to account on important issues.

    PS Please don’t taker my comments as a negative view. I enjoy reading the Spectator very much…:)

    • Fraser Nelson

      Speech is free; journalism needs investment. Hence the metered paywall – I think it’s a pretty sensible compromise.

      • Gebhard Von Blucher

        Yes, it is a sensible and reasonable compromise…..but extremely irritating for a cheapskate like me….

  • Sean L

    Yeah pity the quality has never been poorer, at least in the 35 years or so I’ve been reading it – I’m talking about he front part and the columnists. It’s not just that it’s so left wing – Christopher Hitchens was left wing but always readable – but in place of the likes of Ferdinand Mount, Paul Johnson, Peregrine Worsthorne, Auberon Waugh, you now get Matthew Parris, Mary Wakefield, Hugo Rifkind and various YTS bubble groupies, devoid of any broader political insight. But at least Charles Moore is still on board. Otherwise the only regular columnists that stand comparison with the old guard for my money are Rod Liddle, Lloyd Evans and Rory Sutherland. But at least normal fair minded people can pretty much say what they like down here…

  • souptonuts

    Pleasantly surprised to note that Private Eye has a circulation of 228k. The Eye is, of course, fort nightly but has never bothered with going on line.

  • Terence Hale

    “ Sales of The Spectator hit all-time high in 2015”. I have a suggestion. Such magazines as yours live on subscriptions and advertising. To make comments is usually restricted to subscribers which exclude a very important class of reader from a commonwealth of opinion. Such is an understandable business practice which is wrong. People such as me who have no fixed address and buy your magazine at the airports or news agent are excluding from commenting. To remedy this if you print an issue number in your magazine and ask non subscribers for such when they make a comment. Remember such globe trotter are a wealth of an opinion.

    • jeremy Morfey

      The internet is pretty well universally available, even at airports. Anyone can go online and comment.

      • Terence Hale

        Yes very much so and this is what I do but I am restricted to one or two comments per week as a non-subscriber, this with The Economist is also the case. The problem being whet news happens it tends to happen all at once.

        • Fraser Nelson

          Not sure I’d describe it as a problem!

    • Fraser Nelson

      We don’t restrict comments to subscribers, but I’d quite like to.

  • jeremy Morfey

    I think the test for any set of political writers is a willingness to put their writings up to potentially hostile public scrutiny. Often the discussion will go off-message; often the discussion will contradict the earnest opinions of the author. Sometimes readers may even concur… but don’t count on it. We’re not an easy bunch to browbeat or brainwash.

    It is a credit to The Spectator that pretty well all their articles are open to comment.

  • anka

    Take this, Guardian. I use to read you, but not anymore. Speccie is now my fav British magazine.

    • startledcod

      Sit with those who have sinned and repented, for they have the softest of hearts. Welcome, soft hearted, Anka.

  • Torybushhug

    The best thing about the Speccie is commenters are able to indulge in genuine free speech unlike over on the Telegraph and Gruan.
    Most every comment critical of Jewish people was yesterday removed from the Telegraph article by a Beccah about her Son getting harassment on the tube. It seems free speech is on the wane. As with the Anti Defamation League wrist slapping those that dare make the mildest of criticisms, this kind of policing of thought is counter productive.

    • Gebhard Von Blucher

      Every comment I made on that article’s thread was removed too – and I was supportive of Jewish sensibilities. What galled me was that someone with moderator powers then removed every comment I have made on The Telegraph website during the course of the past month – utterly bizarre, given nothing I say is the slightest bit in breach of The Telegraph’s comment rules.

  • RavenRandom

    Congratulations. I certainly enjoy the paper. Why are sales rising, do you think, when so any others are falling?

    • Trust Me Im a Dog Turd

      That’s a good question. While we’re on it, have you noticed how the days are getting longer and the nights are getting shorter? I wonder what is going on.

      • RavenRandom

        Not really relevant but I guess you’ve just got to live down to your user name.

        • Trust Me Im a Dog Turd

          And you, my po-faced friend, are struggling to live up to it. Mine, I mean.

          • RavenRandom

            He he what a joyous little internet troll you are. A bubble of spite. What a little man you are.

    • Fraser Nelson

      Best magazine in the English language. Simples.

  • MikePage

    It helps that the writers here are people you actually wouldn’t mind meeting, unlike the professional trolls over at the DT.

    • rtj1211

      Many of the DT writers write for the Spectator too.

      • telemachus

        The posters here on the Coffee House Blog are undoubtedly of better quality

        • Rhoda Klapp


      • MikePage

        Yes, but the trolling is far less strident and only occasional, the sort of thing you can put down to misunderstanding rather than a sustained campaign of baiting (Hanlon’s Razor).

  • Christopher Gage

    Quality wins the day.

  • @PhilKean1

    Far and away the very best political publication.

    And the best blogs by a county mile.

    • Trust Me Im a Dog Turd

      Hear, hear. Head and shoulders above the competition. Isabel Hardman’s painstaking research, forensic acumen and Rhadamanthine objectivity put her right up there with, erm, Bryony Gordon. On a good day.

      • @PhilKean1

        OUCH !

        I know you don’t mean it 🙂

      • MIchael Richards

        Oh come off it. Hardman is generally spot-on and a good writer to boot. Judging by your Bryony Gordon reference, I assume you have more of a problem with the fact she’s a woman than with anything she actually has to say…

        • Trust Me Im a Dog Turd

          Yes, spot on smug metropolitan orthodoxies.

      • startledcod

        But I’m in love with Isabel Hardman…