May 12, 2015 Last Updated 10:30 am

Guest column: A look at the changes, continued strength of the Canadian magazine market

‘Canadian publishers face the challenge of engaging their domestic audience in their own country every day, on every platform’

Much like the rest of the world, Canada’s magazine media industry is going through major changes as digital technology advances. With social media platforms, websites, events, videos, TV channels, courses and awards, magazine media have become brands in their own right. Digital editions of print magazines have started to gain popularity, and some industry insiders are beginning to treat these editions as their own entity, not simply extensions of the print edition, as they include more interactive content and features.

MagLaunch-Canada-190While it is popular for media outlets to announce that “print is dead,” this is not the case whatsoever in Canada—2013 saw a steep increase in print magazine launches from 2012, making it the best year yet since the economic downturn of the recession in 2009. Spill of U.S. magazines into Canada is lower than ever at 1.7% of total average issue circulation. Canadian magazine launches are on the rise—since the dip in 2010, 2013 proved to be a record high for numbers of new magazines. Magazines continue to be trusted brands that readers value.

Print magazines in Canada remain a strong medium within a cluttered media landscape, and readership numbers remain stable. Print magazine readership is strong among Canadians of any age—77% of Canadians 12+ read a print magazine in the past 12 months, and younger Canadians, aged 12-34, continue to read print magazines at the exact same level as the general population (77%) and read the same number of titles (2.5 per month). 93% of students aged 18-24 prefer to read a print magazine.
Canadian magazines continue to draw in upper income and managerial/professional Canadians—typically hard-to-reach, high-value audiences. This readership remains strong with notably higher audience penetration.

Even with all of the digital distractions that consumers face on a regular basis—televisions, smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, etc., Canadians are spending more time reading print magazines than ever. Time spent reading has increased to 49 minutes per issue from 42 minutes in 2010.


U.S. magazine spill into Canada is in long term decline as Canadian publications repatriate readership. Circulation of these U.S. spill magazines is also in long term decline. From these numbers, it is clear that Canadians appreciate relevant editorial and advertising content created specifically for Canadian readers.


  • 92% agree that Canadian magazines play a significant role in informing Canadians about each other
  • 88% feel it is personally important that a magazine have editorial content specifically for Canadian readers
  • 90% feel that U.S. titles don’t effectively cover Canadian issues

Canadian magazines are inspirational, influential, engaging and regarded as a trusted source by their readers. In a 2013 study by BrandSpark International and Magazines Canada, TV and print magazines were found to be the channels that command the most attention from consumers. Among category influencers, magazines are most likely to command consumers’ attention. (See video: Canadian magazines connect Canadians.)

The move into the digital realm has been slower than our American neighbours, but is gaining traction and popularity. NextIssue, known as the ‘Netflix’ of magazines, was brought to Canada by Rogers, one of Canada’s largest magazine publishers, in 2013.

To respond to the growth of digital editions in Canada, Magazines Canada assembled a team from Canada’s magazine publishing community to establish a set of guidelines for digital device metrics. This guide meets the needs for engagement measurement of the growing number of digital editions within the Canadian market. Though a little slower on the uptake than their American counterparts, Canadian digital magazine readership grew by 67% over fall 2014, and has nearly tripled over the past two years. 3 million Canadians have read a digital magazine in the past 3 months—up 57% from the previous year. However, Canadian digital readers still love print—in fact, 80% of digital magazine readers also read print magazines.

This fall, the world is coming to Toronto—FIPP, the global association of the world’s magazine media (both publishers and suppliers), selected Toronto as the location for the 40th anniversary of their World Congress. With its strong diversity and magazine media industry, “Toronto is the perfect fit for the world’s biggest magazine media event”, says Mark Jamison, CEO of Magazines Canada.


  1. Magazines Canada, Consumer Magazine Fact Book 2014 (PDF)
  2. Magazines Canada, <strong>U.S. Spill into Canada 2014
  3. Print Measurement Bureau (PMB), Spring 2015
  4. Studentawards Inc. and Marketing Magazine, 2012
  5. Print Measurement Bureau (PMB), Spring 2015
  6. Print Measurement Bureau (PMB), Spring 2015
  7. Magazines Canada, U.S. Spill into Canada, 2014 (PDF)
  8. Magazines Canada, Media Connections Study, 2013 (PDF)
  9. Print Measurement Bureau (PMB), Spring 2015
  10. Print Measurement Bureau (PMB), Fall 2014
  11. Magazines Canada, Digital Magazine Media Fact Book, 2014

“Canada is a microcosm of magazine media activity around the world. With the U.S. to our south, Canadian publishers face the challenge of engaging their domestic audience in their own country every day, on every platform. This has made our publishers both sophisticated and creative about audience building. By treating our domestic audience as a niche, and in facing the challenges of our country’s vast geography and relatively small population, our publishers must be über efficient with the resources they have.

These factors have made our industry one of the most efficient in the world, though this efficiency generally plays out behind the scenes—which is of course the Canadian way. Canadian magazines present consumers with a sophisticated, engaging and high-quality product, both print and digital, that is on par with the best the world has to offer”, says Jamison.

The 2015 world congress will put an international and national spotlight on Canada’s magazines and content creators. The event will bring world-class speakers to the city, as well as the globe’s most prominent media names to share personal insights into magazine media and its future. The world congress is the most high profile magazine media event in the world, bringing together 800 consumer and business media magazine publishers and other stakeholders from across the globe.

Registration for the 2015 World Congress is now open for both Canadian and international publishers.

Amanda Raponi Hart is Information Centre Manager at Magazines Canada

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