The Australian Men’s magazine Alpha closed in May 2011. It was the highest rated Australian men’s magazine, but it sold itself as a class publication without resorting to the easy sell method of publishing smut. This article will look at Alpha magazine's history.
In its heyday, Alpha was the biggest-selling men’s magazine in Australian publishing history. Its demise says much about the current industry focus on electronic publishing. However, it says more about how incredibly tough it is, and always has been, to sell magazines to men in Australia. Worldwide sales in Men’s magazines are suffering as tastes seem to be moving away from the ‘lads mags’ approach of the early 90s and Alpha was the latest to fall. The magazine focused on sports primarily and kept its readers up-to-date on the latest development across the world of sport and fitness.
The high point for men’s magazines in Australia and across the World was the late 1990s and early 2000s. Inspired by the UK lad mag revolution, titles like FHM, Ralph and Inside Sport evolved. The only Australian men’s magazines with any kind of enduring track record are the golf magazines, fishing magazines, motoring magazines and other specialist titles. A great success story in today’s market is Men’s Health. Only time will tell if it lasts. Alpha managed to build a small audience and held its own for a while, but once its publisher was taken over it sadly was no more.
When Alpha set out on its own, it was originally bundled with News Ltd on the news-stands, its sales began to dwindle, its mix of sport and grooming failing to hold onto the audience that it had managed to build in a relatively short time. Unlike a few other magazines that got a second chance as an online publication, Alpha wasn’t given this lifeline. This might be due to the selection of magazines that are already available online, and publishers thought it would fail without a print publication to bolster interest, especially given the small audience for the print version.
The name Alpha leaves on in publication as an institutional investor rankings magazine. It isn’t connected with the sports magazine. Instead, it looks at the largest hedge funds and hedge fund rankings. This magazine is clearly very different from its sport counterpart, and this also might be the reason why it was not given the online publication lifeline.