FHM Shuts Down in U.S., Dealing Devastating Blow to ﾑLad’ Category
Web site, other international editions to continue publishing.
By Matt Kinsman and Bill Mickey The high-profile "lad" magazine FHM is shutting down in the U.S. because of a sagging advertising market, parent company EMAP said today. The U.S. Web site will remain live and other international editions of FHM will continue publishing.
The move is a huge blow to this category of men’s magazines, brought to the U.S. in 1997 by Felix Dennis with the launch of Maxim. The bawdy, "beer-and-babes" formula belied the old notion that young men don’t read magazines in large numbers. Maxim and its imitators soared, reaching mass-circulation status of well over 1 million and monthly newsstand sales that rivaled such powerhouses as Cosmopolitan.
"Trading conditions in the U.S. market have deteriorated over the past 12 months and we do not expect improvement in the near term," said Paul Keenan, CEO of Emap Consumer Media, in a statement. "In these circumstances we do not anticipate that the title would be able to trade on a profitable basis going forward."
Through November 2006, ad pages for FHM fell nearly 20 percent, to 653, over the same 11-month period in 2005, while ad revenue sank 15.3 percent to $65.2 million, according to Publishers Information Bureau. "I think they’re seeing a lot of migration of ad revenue to online markets," says a source close to the company. "In this sector there are a few competitors already, those ad dollars are at a premium and they’re going elsewhere. As a whole, the mainstream men’s market has lost 11 percent of its ad volume over the past year."
Forty-seven people are affected by the closing and a small number of staffers will be retained to manage the Web site.
Circulation remained relatively steady for the U.S.-editions of both FHM and Maxim over the last few years. FHM had 1.25 million in total paid and verified circulation as of June 2006, according to its publisher’s statement with the Audit Bureau of Circulations, compared to 1.29 million in June 2005 and 1.11 million in 2003. Maxim had 2.58 million total paid and verified circulation as of June 2006, compared to 2.50 million in 2005 and 2003. The source said the FHM Web site has nearly double the number of users as the magazine does subscribers.
Ironically, FHM was to some extent viewed as an also-ran to Maxim, even though it pre-dated Maxim in England, and is owned by a far larger company than Dennis Publishing.
Maxim has also had its difficulties. The U.S. edition of Maxim is down 1.2 percent, to $172.1 million in revenue and down 7.5 percent to 828 ad pages through November according to PIB, and "gadget" spin-off Stuff is down 7.8 percent, to $55.5 million, in revenue and 14 percent in pages for the same period.
Men’s shopping magazines have fallen even harder, with the closure of Cargo in May and Vitals last year.
When entering the U.S. market, Felix Dennis had told Folio: at the time, "My competition is not GQ, it’s FHM." Dennis, who is said to have sought buyers for his 19 print magazines on and off, last month debuted Monkey, an Internet magazine that offers a smattering of jokes, facts, pictures and gadgets. Monkey borrows edit staff from the UK-version of Maxim and lets readers provide content such as YouTube clips.