Celebrity gossip titles are leading growth in the women's weekly market, according to a new report from distributor Seymour. Their sales growth is outstripping that of the market in general and other women's weeklies in particular, it says. 

The report looks at the key weeklies in the celebrity gossip market: Heat, Hello, National Enquirer UK, Now and OK, but focuses on what it calls the phenomenal' growth of Heat, whose sales doubled when it changed from a film and TV magazine to a celebrity gossip title in May 2000. Since then Heat has been growing and now regularly has sales of more than 450,000. 

Seymour says sales over the last two months has made Heat the second highest selling gossip weekly behind Now, but it adds: "The higher cover price of OK means that, when looking at revenues, OK is the top title with Heat holding the number two slot ahead of Now. "Cover prices are varied, with Now and National Enquirer UK priced at the lower end, Heat in the middle and Hello and OK at the upper." 

Furthermore, the distributor says sales in the sector are volatile, varying by 50,000 depending on who is on the cover. It should also be noted that in February OK introduced a free polybagged supplement, Hot Stars, and initially saw a dramatic increase in sales. If the figure for OK is re-calculated from the introduction of Hot Stars, it is still 16.8%, higher than any of the other titles, Seymour says. 

The report concludes: "With the explosion of the gossip market these celebrity gossip weeklies have become more and more important to the market. "The five titles are estimated to be worth 8.5% of the total regular frequency market, a figure that is climbing all the time. "All five titles are inside the top 100 and four are within the top 10. All are large volume sellers and as a result these five are now worth an estimated 44.4% of the women's weeklies sub-sector."