Miércoles 24 de Agosto de 2005, Ip nº 123

To Market a Magazine, Fill It With Celebrity Gossip
Por Roben Farzad

THE voracious demand for Hollywood gossip, from Brad Pitt's love interests to Tom Cruise's spat with Brooke Shields, drove circulation increases for celebrity magazines in the last six months. Celebrity publications posted strong total paid circulation and newsstand gains in the first six months of the year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations' latest report of publishing estimates. More serious categories - particularly newsweeklies and men's titles - continued to struggle, according to the report.

And some titles missed their rate base, the paid circulation promised to advertisers.

While People, a Time Inc. publication, still led the group in total paid circulation and newsstand sales, smaller rivals registered higher growth.

Circulation for In Touch, by Bauer Publishing, increased 49.7 percent, to 1.12 million copies compared with the first half of 2004. Newsstand sales for the weekly rose 49.8 percent, to 1.09 million. At Us Weekly, which is owned by Wenner Media, circulation increased 23.9 percent to 1.67 million. Newsstand sales for Us Weekly rose 32.6 percent, selling 989,011 copies. Star, the tabloid, sold 879,356 copies on newsstands, down 4 percent, but its total paid circulation increased 20.9 percent, to 1.43 million, since the first half of 2004.

"Consumers have an insatiable appetite for celebrity news," said George R. Sansoucy, director of print and media at MAGNA Global Trading, a division of Interpublic. "It's pretty amazing."

Catering to a similar demographic, women's service titles like More and Real Simple posted strong numbers. The redesigned More, which is owned by the Meredith Corporation, had a 9.3 percent gain in total circulation to 1.05 million, with a 14.1 percent jump in newsstand sales. Circulation for Real Simple from Time Inc. increased 13.1 percent, to 1.94 million, while newsstand sales for O, The Oprah Magazine, a Hearst title, soared 20 percent, to 1.1 million, despite a 3.6 decline in total paid circulation.

Traditional men's titles, which are contending with the spate of beer-and-babes titles that have come to market, were not as prosperous. Condé Nast's GQ and Hearst's Esquire both experienced flat circulation, at 824,334 and 712,503, respectively.

Newsweeklies continued their slump in the first half of 2005, as readers relied on the Internet and other outlets for news.

Time magazine's circulation for the period stagnated at 4.05 million, with newsstand sales falling 3.4 percent to 157,215 copies. Newsweek raised its total circulation by 1.8 percent, to 3. 2 million, but its newsstand sales sank 14 percent, to 126,163.

Moreover, a few magazines missed their rate base for the period - and will have to compensate advertisers with "make good" space or cash as a result, Mr. Sansoucy said. For the second consecutive reporting period, Playboy missed its rate base - this time by 35,002 copies - as titles like Maxim and Stuff attract readers away. Muscle & Fitness missed its 450,000 rate base by 12,305 copies, and Ebony fell short of its 1.6 million rate base by 85,111 issues.

Mr. Sansoucy said that magazine advertisers were increasingly inoculating themselves against such rate-base surprises by demanding month-by-month figures. "You're seeing the more sophisticated print buyers prenegotiate before a miss even happens," he said. "It's important to ensure that issue by issue, you get what you are promised."


  16/08/2005. The New York Times.