Cosmopolitan Hits 115,000 Paid Digital Subscribers
Three-fourths of that number is annual subscriptions, priced at $19.99.
Cosmopolitan topped 115,000 digital subscribers last month, making it the first Hearst title to break 100,000 and perhaps marking renewed reason for hope among magazine publishers.
â€śWeâ€™ve crossed one small threshold but a threshold nonetheless,â€ť Hearst Magazines EVP/GM John Loughlin told AD. â€śWe see this as further evidence that the opportunity for magazines in the tablet and e-reader space is truly significant and I hope even historic.â€ť
According to Loughlin, three-quarters of the 115,000 are annual subscriptions, priced at $19.99. About 10 percent are month-to-month recurring subscriptions, priced at $1.99 each and amounting to $23.88 annually, an option currently available only through Apple. The remaining 15 percent is average monthly single copy buys, priced the same as print at $3.99.
â€śFor all intents and purposes, this growth has really occurred over the last nine months,â€ť Loughlin says. While the 3 million-circulation magazine launched digital editions on the Zinio platform as early as 2005, much of this uptake is the result of the iPadâ€™s launch in April 2010 and the Kindle Fireâ€™s launch last fall. The title has experimented with brand extensions such as Cosmo for Guys on the iPadâ€”a move, according to Hearst Magazines president David Carey, that enables the company to â€śtest new concepts without a significant capital investment.â€ťÂ
Loughlin attributes Cosmoâ€™s digital success in part to its being â€śavailable and visible on all the major storefronts and devicesâ€ť through Apple, Zinio, Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle. He adds that Cosmoâ€™s younger, more affluent, and better-educated demographics are a â€śperfect matchâ€ť with those of tablet and e-reader users.
Testing the Paid Subscription Model
Unlike counterpartsÂ Time Inc. and CondĂ© Nast, Hearst has been known to avoid bundling digital subscriptions for free with print. According to Loughlin, Hearst has been testing a variety of price points and combinationsâ€”including options to purchase print with an incentive to buy digital or to bundle print and digital at a higher-priceâ€”but the company is still committed to digital subscriptions as an additional revenue stream.
â€śWeâ€™re still in the early stages of learning,â€ť he says. â€śWeâ€™re certainly not at a place to draw any conclusions. I think the one conclusion we feel good about, and itâ€™s validation of our strategy, is that customers will in fact pay for content on this new platform. For us, it appears to be a very good business decision to establish right out of the gate with this new device that our content has monetary value. We are not giving it away with a print subscription, and our consumers are willing to buy into that. And we think that bodes well for magazine publishing into the future.â€ť
Across all of its titles, Hearst says it has sold more than 500,000 digital subscriptions and expects to double that number to one million by the end of this year.