This week’s released semi-annual circulation scorecard of the consumer magazine industry, the Audit Bureau of Circulations Fas-Fax report, laid it out in black and white – but it probably should have been red and white:
(All figures, except where noted, are first half 2009 versus first half 2008)
Total paid circulation – down 2.1%
Single copy sales – down 12%
Paid subscriptions – up a wimpy 0.5%
Among newsweeklies, THE ECONOMIST* was up 9% and Felix Dennis’ THE WEEK up 1%, while TIME* and NEWSWEEK* continued to drop. US NEWS & WORLD REPORT*, which pretty much is out of the category, plummeted more than 25%.
Among fashion magazines, only VOGUE* increased its total paid circulation by any significant percentage (6%.) In single copy sales no magazine saw an increase.
The celebrity magazines wallowed in pain:
OK! WEEKLY – down 21% (to 398,360 copies per month)
IN TOUCH – down 20% (to 625,589)
STAR – down 14% (to 601,115)
PEOPLE – down 13% (to 1,319,350)
LIFE & STYLE – down 8% (to 478,788)
US WEEKLY – down 3% (to 843,479)
In sports magazines, ESPN THE MAGAZINE* and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED* both took major hits at the newsstand (down 20% and 25%, respectively).
Business magazines have also fallen in newsstand sales: HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW dropped 16%, FORBES* 15%, FAST COMPANY* 18%, and BUSINESSWEEK*, which is for sale, fell 7%. Only INC posted a gain (up 7%.)
In the women’s mass market magazines even Meredith titles suffered: LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL* (down 46%), BETTER HOMES & GARDENS* (down 36%), and FAMILY CIRCLE (down 23%.) Only Time Inc’s ALL YOU*, which is sold mostly through Wal-Mart showed an increase in total circulation (up 12%) even though newsstand sales were down slightly.
Noteworthy results by some of the top magazines (The Horse will try to have more tidbits in the coming weeks – after he stifles his crying fits):
Total paid circulation for the top 25 remained relatively steady, with the exception of TV GUIDE* (down 10%), PLAYBOY (down 9%) and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC* (down 7%).
Stalwarts O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE* and MARTHA STEWART LIVING* ended up at up 0.1% and down 0.3%, respectively.
OK! WEEKLY was down 21% and has announced it has lowered its rate base – the number of copies it promises advertisers – by 100,000, or 11%.
DISNEY FAMILYFUN* saw its single-copy sales account for less than 1% of its total circulation. Maybe that’s why Disney is releasing the magazine’s first-ever newsstand special to be sold in the top 69 Disney stores, Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart and elsewhere. Despite its sad newsstand sales, it was one of the fastest-growing magazines with a total paid and verified circ increase of 17% (to 2.15 million.)
On the brighter side:
THE ECONOMIST* – despite a subscription price of over $100 a year – is continuing its reach for the stars with a North American circulation up 9% and global circulation up 6%, doubling it within 10 years.
Dylan Stableford, formerly of foliomag.com, wrote in his new blog ‘The Media Alley’ at thewrap.com that “publishers largely fulfilled their rate bases. Of the top 30 magazines in terms of paid circulation, just one – PLAYBOY – missed its rate base (the number of copies it guarantees to advertisers it will sell) during the first half of the year. Most overdelivered on their guarantees by a marginal amount, except for one: GAME INFORMER*, a magazine for videogame geeks, had a total paid circulation of more than 3.6 million during the first half, some 30 percent more than its guarantee of 2.3 million copies.”
He also wrote: “Magazine with titles I make fun of actually are getting subscribers. For reasons unknown to humanity, TRUCK, RACE, CYCLE AND RECREATION (up 172 percent), KUSTOMS & HOT RODS (up 93 percent) and BOWHUNT AMERICA (up 50 percent) managed to increase their subscription bases by healthy margins. Sadly, TROPICAL FISH HOBBYIST (down 6 percent) and WILDFOWL (down 4 percent) didn’t fare as well.”
You can read more here.
And, just so our reporting is complete: The 2009 September fashion magazines came in at a total of 15 lbs versus 21 lbs in 2008.
Filed under: Financials, Magazine management, US Magazines | Tagged: Magazines, Media, Publishing | Leave a Comment »