Newsstand Grim and Digital Is In According to Latest ABC Circulation Numbers

By Michelle Manafy

The Audit Bureau of Circulations released its semiannual Fas-Fax report for U.S. consumer magazines this morning (Aug. 7). In addition to its “top 25 lists” that look at circulation totals and single-copy sales, this marks the first time ABC has specifically broken out circulation for digital replica editions of consumer magazines.

It comes as no surprise that newsstand sales for 22 or the top 25 consumer magazines fell during the first half of 2012. At more than 1.3 million in single-copy sales, Numerically, Cosmopolitan easily tops the list (1,351,738), though it is down 15.5% versus first-half 2011. Woman’s World ranks second, experiencing a decline of 3.7%. Family Circle, which saw its newsstand sales rise 8%, from 525,358 to 567,632, was the percentage leader among the three exceptions, followed by rival Woman’s Day (+6.2%) and Life & Style Weekly (+2.5%).

Topping the "25"  in total paid & verified circulation is AARP The Magazine, with 22,526,478 subscribers—up 0.6% from the previous half—followed by AARP Bulletin  with 22,283,411  (+0.2%). Game Informer  was the percentage leader (+37.2%), followed by Family Circle (+7.4%), but this time Woman’s Day produced the largest decline (-10.7%).

The reason is that Family Circle raised its rate base this year to 4 million while Woman’s Day lowered its guarantee to 3.25 million. Both stood at 3.8 million last year.

Although ABC previously included digital editions of consumer magazines in the topline of its paid and verified circulation numbers, this Fax-Fax is the first to have broken them out into a standalone digital replica column. According to ABC, 258 U.S. magazines reported more than 5.4 million digital replica editions (paid, verified, and analyzed nonpaid) versus about 2 million a year ago. That was less than 1% of the total industry.

Game Informer was easily the digital replica leader with 1.2 million buyers. Maxim is runner-up with 284,824 followed by Cosmo with 185,673. Among the others in the "25": O, The Oprah Magazine, Parenting, ESPN The Magazine and Wired.

Given that this is the first time digital editions have been broken out, ABC’s "25" for this category does not yet track individual magazine growth. However a Women’s Wear Daily article today (Aug. 7) on the ABC results for fashion magazines reported digital replica surges for, among others, Allure (+273%) and Glamou(+71%). But these numerical totals (14,217and 42,019, respectively) are minuscule next to the total print circulations (1,127,136 and 2,374,291).