The category that carries newsstand sales on its back.
Brangelina, Tomkat, Benifer, you name it. It’s been heady days for the celebrity category on the newsstand;in no uncertain terms, it’s carried sales for the entire business. One more image of a paunchy Britney or pouting Angelina may send you over the edge but four celebrity titles in particular, People, US Weekly, In Touch, and Life & Style, represented $295 million in retail revenues in first half 2005;18 percent of the $1.6 billion market, according to analysis based on ABC Fas Fax and BPA Consumer Trac data by Baird Davis for Circulation Management.
Second-half 2005 sales numbers are even more striking, says Davis. Counting the entire group of seven celebrity titles;People, US Weekly, In Touch Weekly, Star, Life & Style Weekly, and two tabloids, National Enquirer and Globe;sales accounted for a whopping 30 percent of newsstand revenue of all audited publications. That’s $489 million of the $1.64 billion for that period, up 12 percent from 2004 figures.
In fact, 18 of the top 25 checkout titles, none in the celebrity category, had a combined revenue decline of 5.9 percent for the second half of 2005.
So, with flat newsstand performance at a .1 percent decline in revenue for the first half of 2005 and .7 percent for the second, if you subtract the celebrity titles, overall performance looks rather grim.
And despite what was initially looking like an awfully crowded category on the verge of a shakeout with eight titles, only one magazine, Inside TV, has shut down. In fact, Bauer, currently with two titles in the category, In Touch Weekly at 1.2 million weekly sales and Life & Style Weekly with 600,000, is forging ahead with plans to introduce two more weekly titles. At least one will skew to the celebrity category, reportedly being a cross between US Weekly and Cosmopolitan, according to a report by Ad Age.
So, when you see Brad, Angelina, Britney and K-Fed for the gazillionth time and coverlines such as "Britney Speaks Her Mind," remember there’s a method to the madness.
VITAL STATS: The celebrity category, at $489 million, accounted for 30 percent of overall audited newsstand revenue in the second half of 2005.