US magazines see digital growth

8 August 2013

NEW YORK: Newsstand sales of US consumer magazines dropped by 10% annually in the first half of 2013, but sales of digital editions also nearly doubled over the same period, according to the industry's recognised verifier.

Statistics from the Alliance for Audited Media revealed that weekly celebrity magazines and women's titles experienced the steepest declines across the market, although Time magazine bucked the trend with modest growth of 1.2% in single-copy sales.

Total paid and verified circulation declined 1% in the first half and paid subscriptions were down 0.1%. But digital editions grew to 10.2m, or 3.3% of total circulation, compared with the 5.4m digital editions recorded over the first half of 2012.

Steve Cohn, editor of the Media Industry Newsletter, said he expected the market share of digital editions to grow, even if currently it was relatively small. "You have to walk before you run," he said.

Cohn also expressed concern about the future of "newsstand-dependent" women's magazines, which suffered particularly steep declines.

Looking at individual titles within the category, Cosmopolitan posted a decline of 23.9% in newsstand sales, Glamour fell by 28.8% while Oprah Magazine dropped 22.7%.

But more positively for Cosmopolitan and Oprah Magazine, their digital subscriber base grew by 33% and 22% respectively.

Celebrity magazines also suffered with People falling 11.8%, Us Weekly by 16.7% and Life & Style Weekly by 20.9%.

But Cohn added that these magazines depended considerably on big events and so would have missed out on covering the birth of the UK's royal baby, which occurred after the period analysed in the latest data.

Larry Hackett, managing editor of People, has said its August 5 royal baby edition has already sold 1.2m copies, making it "the best-selling cover of the year". Cohn expected other celebrity titles to benefit from the event in the second half of the year.

Data sourced from New York Times, Alliance for Audited Media; additional content by Warc staff