OPA Intelligence Reports

Posted in Research on 02/11/2013 By Mark Glaser & Courtney Lowery Cowgill

Print challenges, digital boom for mags

In the face of lowering circulation numbers for print magazines, digital versions are buoying the overall picture. According to the Alliance for Audited Media, which just released its report for the second half of 2012, overall paid and verified circulation was down just 0.3 percent while newsstand sales dropped 8.2 percent. Digital versions are still a very small part of that overall circulation, but it is the growing part. In the second half of 2012, digital versions made up 2.4 percent of the total industry’s circulation—up from 1.7 percent in the first half of the year. Digital versions nearly doubled in the second half of 2012, from 3.2 million copies to 7.9 million. Nearly 65 percent of the magazines that report to the AAM now have digital editions.

Topping the digital charts were Game Informer with a 2,305,816 digital circ, Maxim with 259,529, Cosmo with 254,751, National Geographic with 160,077, Poder Hispanic at 149,838 and Reader’s Digest with 147,149. Then there are the weeklies, which are perhaps under more pressure than the others and now even more so as the U.S Postal Service plans to stop Saturday delivery. Weekly publishers have seen it coming for some time and had already started looking for other options. As AdAge reports, Bloomberg Businessweek has experimented with using newspaper carriers in major markets to get its weekly to readers in a timely manner. Others are working with Friday or Monday delivery options. But perhaps the Postal Service announcement will move more toward digital delivery sooner. Thomas Carpenter, American Business Media’s chief Washington lobbyist, tells Folio: “For weekly magazines especially, this change will likely accelerate the move to digital-only content because delivery standards have already been in decline.”