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Tough Period for First-Half Consumer Circulation

While there were some winners, nearly half of magazines report declines.



Bill Mickey By Bill Mickey
08/09/2011

ABC released its first-half 2011 FAS FAX report today and the numbers reflect a tough reporting period for publishers. The newsstand held back many attempts to gain circ, and overall circulation-paid, verified and analyzed non-paid-dipped into the negatives for about 45 percent of the U.S. magazines in the report.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, however. The women's category managed to remain relatively even for the period when compared against the first half of 2010. But again, single copy sales were the fly in the ointment. Cosmopolitan (-2.6 percent), Elle (-9 percent), Glamour (-17.5 percent), O, the Oprah Magazine (-6.4) all dropped on the newsstand. Allure (.6 percent) and Vogue (12.7 percent) did better. All titles, however, remained relatively flat with low single digit or very slight drops in total circulation.

And despite Cosmo's dip in single copy sales, it still topped the list on that front, even beating People, at almost 1.6 million copies sold for the period. Surprisingly, People dipped 10.5 percent in single copy sales in the first half.

On the weekly news front, Newsweek goosed its verified subscriptions by 95 percent, jumping from almost 38,000 to about 74,000, while paid subscriptions dropped almost 8 percent. Single copy sales eked out a 2.8 percent gain, but total circ edged down 5 percent.

Meanwhile, chief competitor Time went in the opposite direction. It purged 72 percent of its verified subscription while increasing paid circulation by 3.3 percent. Single copy sales jumped 16 percent and total circulation was up almost 2 percent.

The Week dropped 3 percent on the newsstand, but managed a 2 percent gain in overall circulation.

Another verified subscription jumper was TV Guide magazine, going from about 8,000 to 63,000, a 695 percent jump.

The celebrity category, long a newsstand stalwart and often carrying overall sales on its back, declined noticeably at retail. As mentioned, People dropped in single copy sales by 10.5 percent. US Weekly was down 17 percent. OK! fell 21.3 percent. In Touch was down 16 percent while Star dropped 16.7 percent.

Total circulation for the category faired slightly better, except for In Touch--which had a terrible first half--and Star. In Touch fell 10 percent in paid subscriptions and 15.7 percent in total circ. Star lost 7 percent in total circulation, but paid subs were up 13 percent.

On the business front, Bloomberg Businessweek lost a significant 34 percent on the newsstand, boosted verified by 19 percent and managed to remain flat on total circulation. The Economist dropped 12 percent at retail and edged up by 2.6 percent in overall circ. Forbes fell 8 percent for the period in single copies, but remained flat in total circ. Harvard Business Review faired much better at retail, jumping 30 percent and managing a 2 percent overall circ gain.

Bill Mickey By Bill Mickey
08/09/2011







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