Consumer magazine circulation continued to decline in the second half of 2014, down 2.2 percent, according to data on nearly 400 titles released by the Alliance for Audited Media. Some publishers are taking measures to make things seem better than they really are however.
Paid subscriptions declined 1.5 percent overall, but AMI’s Fit Pregnancy (up 264 percent) and Meredith’s Allrecipes (107 percent) led the way for those that bucked the trend. The entertainment segment had several above-average performers in paid subscriptions as well, with People Stylewatch (30 percent), Star (14 percent) and OK! Weekly (12 percent).
Single copy sales plummetted 14.2 percent in the second half of the year, though the supply chain was impacted by the shutdown of Source Interlink Distribution in May. Business titles stood out, with Entrepreneur (up 60 percent), Inc. (37 percent) and Fast Company (36 percent) each posting big gains.
There were more losers than winners in paid subscriptions and newsstand sales though. And publishers tried to make up for those losses—and meet the rate base demands of advertisers—with verified circulation. Verified subscriptions rose more than 5 percent in the second half of last year after spiking 15 percent in the first half of 2014.
While verified circulation (copies reserved for public places like waiting rooms or airplanes; or to specifically selected individuals) does count toward official rate base totals in nearly all cases, it’s typically considered less valuable than paid circulation.
Several notable titles more than doubled their previous verified circulation totals, including Money (jumped from 30,000 to 198,000 verified subscriptions), FamilyFun (94,000 to 450,000), Good Housekeeping (50,000 to 202,000), TIME (85,000 to 320,000), Parents (37,000 to 94,000), All You (59,000 to 130,000) and Entertainment Weekly (45,000 to 93,000).
Digital edition circulation also rose 11 percent, making it 11.8 million issues distributed industry-wide.* Game Informer still dominates the digital edition market with nearly a quarter of those copies sold.
*Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that digital edition circulation had increased 2 percent.