The Good, The Bad, The Weird: 6 Revelations from (not finished) Digital Dashboard
While I enjoyed the drama of the recent article summarizing PwC’s Entertainment and Media Outlook 2013-2017 on the magazine industry shedding $1.3B by 2017, they missed a little of the positive.
Mainly, it’s not looking so bad from a distribution standpoint.
I’ve been looking at publisher’s statements from Alliance for Audited Media (AAM, formerly ABC) to compare the Top 50 and Top 10 magazines with digital subscriptions, looking at the period ending 6/30/12 and the most recent period 12/31/12.
A few gems from the Top 50 review:
1. THE GOOD: DIGITAL SUBS and DIGITAL SINGLE COPY ARE UP
• 58% increase in digital subscriptions from 6/30-12/31 2012
• 5% increase in digital single copy sales from 6/30-12/31 2012
2. THE BAD: PRINT SUBS and PRINT SINGLE COPY ARE DOWN AND WAY DOWN RESPECTIVELY
For the same time period, print subscriptions are down 1.9%, or a whopping 1.9M, and print newsstand is down 1.6%, or 186K
3. THE CONCLUSION: FOR TOP 50, DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION GAINS ALMOST COVER LOSSES IN PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
• Digital subscriptions grew by an amazing 1.7M, almost covering the 1.9M lost by print subscriptions.
• The single copy side is not as rosy; we lost almost 200K in print while gaining only 5.8K in digital single copy.
This could lead you to a viable conclusion that we are not disappearing as an industry, but rather switching from a print to a digital industry.
THE WEIRD: ONE MAGAZINE-- GAME INFORMER—MAKES UP 50% OF DIGITAL SUBS.
Game Informer has grown over 1M in digital subscriptions in the last six months, and make up half of all digital subscriptions in the Top 50.When the gargantuan Game Informer, who has embraced digital like a baby gorilla embraces her mama, is taken out of the digital picture, things do change.
Once again, very interesting.
True, your Digital subs only go up 36% without Game Informer. But, significantly, without the Game Informer skew, the increase in Digital subscriptions actually beats the loss in print subscriptions.
From the Top 10 Review:
4. THE GOOD: 62% INCREASE IN DIGITAL SUBS
Looking at the Top 10 you find a whopping 62% increase in digital subs for this period of time.
5. THE BAD: SINGLE COPY SALES IS NOT “ALL THAT”
It becomes an even starker picture when you move from the Top 50 to the Top 10. When iPad launched back in 2010, I was rejoicing that once again single copy was sexy. Well, clearly once Apple began selling subscriptions the sex appeal faded fast. Compared to last six months, the Top 10 titles had an actual 11% loss in digital single copy sales.
6. CONCLUSION: YOU CAN FOOL SOME OF THE PEOPLE SOME OF THE TIME, BUT NOT IN THE SAME PLACE.
I surmise that when you offer more or less the same product at significantly reduced prices in the same place, then subscriptions, that is, price sensitivities, win out.
THE WEIRD: MIDWESTERN MIDDLE-AGED TAKING LIKE DUCKS TO WATER TO DIGITAL
Of the major magazine companies, Reader’s Digest was notably absent in the Top 10 Digital titles in the first six months, but made up for it, rocketing to the 5th and 6th position for the period ending 12/31/12 with Reader’s Digest and Taste of Home respectively.
Hope you found this useful. If you’d like to download the entire Digital Dashboard once we finish it, please email me (email@example.com) and we’ll make sure to get it to you.
M. Thea Selby is a Principal in Next Steps Marketing, a San Francisco boutique firm that solves audience-building challenges in creative, customized way using practical "call-to-action" marketing techniques where the return is clearly measurable by clicks, online sign-ups, responses to direct mail, orders from partners, or sales at newsstand.
She was the 2010 Women's Leadership Conference Chair, is a co-founder and board member of Exceptional Women in Publishing—a national organization dedicated to supporting women in and through the power of online and print media—and is the former CEO and Publisher of Light Green Media, a digital publishing company.