Audited Consumer Magazine Circ Flat in First Half 2013
Digital subscriptions growing quickly while single-copy sales falter.
The Alliance for Audited Media has released its semi-annual Snapshot report that shows a decline of .1-percent in circulation when combining print and digital. Additionally, rapidly declining single-copy newsstand sales are casting more shadows over magazine publishers.
Digital circulation was no doubt a growth catalyst for many publications. That is, magazines with the most significant overall increases are also typically offering digital subscriptions. Still, for most titles, digital circulation sizes are on average between 1 to 10 percent the size of their print counterparts, with the exception of a few outliers.
In fact, the AAM reports 3.3 percent (10.2 million subscriptions) of total circulation is stemming from digital subscriptions, up from 1.7 percent (5.4 million) in 2012.
Breaking it Down By The Numbers
Women and family lifestyle titles show the most stable growth potential amongst the top 25 consumer titles. Specifically, Family Fun Magazine grew its total circulation by 7.3 percent.
Spanish language titles continue to uptick in 2013 with both print and digital circulations. For instance, Vanidades expanded its total circulation by 57.2 percent, and its digital subscription base is nearly 15 percent the size of its print circulation. A similar trend is noticeable in many niche and enthusiast titles as well.
The top 25 consumer magazines by digital circulation size are a mixed bag, with Game Informer Magazine leading the way at just under 3 million subscriptions. But the disparity from 1 to 25 is vast, with last-place People only reaching 73,181 digital subscribers. Nevertheless, all or at least most content categories are represented in the top 25, which suggests digital magazines have become appealing to a broad audience.
Troubling, however, are single-copy newsstand sales.
Newsstand sales continue to face hard times, but according the MPA only account for around 10 percent of revenues, and the AAM indicates that portion could be even smaller. Regardless, that still accounts for revenue outputs in the billions.
Men’s magazines are seeing none of the growth women’s titles are, as sales continue to soften.
Maxim fell 23.8 percent in single-copy sales, as did Playboy, down 42.5 percent over the last year. Both also saw their digital sales drop. There was digital growth with Men’s Health, up 0.6 percent, and Men’s Journal, up 4.9 percent, the title’s single-copy sales negated all gains falling 11.2 percent and 25.4 percent, respectively.
However, a bright spot in newsstand sales was saved for publishers targeting gun aficionados. American Rifleman’s total print sales were up 14.2 percent to over 1.9 million readers, and Handguns magazine saw single-copy sales jump 34.3 percent.
Worth noting is that tablet media sales spiked 84 percent during this same time period, so the residual impact from those sales could move the needle in the second half of 2013 and beyond.