Magazine Hot List 2003: Highlights

Nothing, it seems, can stop O, the Oprah Magazine.

After a stellar launch in 2000, the Hearst-backed, Oprah Winfrey-inspired publication was named Startup of the Year by Adweek Magazines. Then, in 2002, while just about every other magazine on the racks took a nosedive along with the economy, O just seemed to get stronger.

The magazine’s success in the face of a dreadful magazine climate — not to mention that ad pages are now greater than 1,900, revenue is closing in on $180 million and paid circ is at 2.2 million — puts O at the very top of this year’s Adweek Magazines Hot List. (See complete list below.)

Despite a very challenging year for magazine publishers, O was not alone in turning in a strong performance. Also on this year’s Hot List are ESPN, Real Simple, The New Yorker, In Style, FHM, Cooking Light, Maxim, Shape and Allure.

Heading Adweek’s list of Top 10 magazine under $50 million in ad revenue is Conde Nast’s Lucky. The magazine, in just its second year of existence, is producing $39 million in revenue and even has Conde Nast mulling a male-skewing spinoff. Other titles on Adweek’s under-$50 million list are CosmoGirl!, Popular Science, National Geographic Adventure, The Atlantic Monthly, Nickelodeon, Transworld Skateboarding, Men’s Fitness; Reader’s Digest Selecciones and Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel.

Adweek also singled out longtime Vanity Fair leader Graydon Carter as Editor of the Year. The Executive Team of the Year is Real Simple’s managing editor Carrie Tuhy, publisher Robin Domeniconi and head of consumer marketing Steven Sachs. The Startup of the Year is Budget Living. And the Design Team is Hannah McCaughy and Rob Taggert, creative director and photo editor, respectively, at Outside.

1. O the Oprah Magazine

Revenue up: $33.8 million (23.28%)
Ad Pages: +54.86/+4%
Since 1999: n/a
Circulation: 2,261,570 (-10.6%)

This magazine was a winner out of the gate; we named it Startup of the Year when it launched in 2000. Nearly $180 million in ad revenue later, O continues to reel in advertisers. 200,000 bonus circ means readers are there, too.


Revenue Up: $45 million (36.35%)
Ad Pages: +140.9/+10.69%
Since 1999: -6.0%
Circulation: 1,550,138 (+9.8%)

Another former Startup of the Year, this sports title continues to work magic with twentysomething men. Fueled by apparel, liquor and auto ads, ESPN also has cross-media buy appeal with Web and television.

3. Real Simple

Revenue up: $28.9 million1 (19.0%)
Ad Pages: +355.0/+67.8%
Since 1999: n/a
Circulation: 1,140,500 (+31.9%)

No. 3 with a bullet. When it launched in 2000, the critics howled. Now Madison Avenue notes, “It has found its voice. It’s a must-have for mass beauty and retail.” It wasn’t real easy, but Real Simple is a real hit.

4. The New Yorker

Revenue Up: $21.3 million(20.78%)
Ad Pages: +126.6/+6.0%
Since 1999: +6.9%
Circulation: 938,600 (+6.8%)

Kudos to David and David (Carey and Remnick) for bringing the venerable magazine into the 21st century. The New Yorker Festival brings a bit of hip to the old gal. “A must-have on luxury plans,” notes one buyer.

5. InStyle

Revenue Up: $26.0 million (10.92%)
Ad Pages: +68.9/+2.3%
Since 1999: +16.7%
Circulation: 1,670.792 (+6.5%)

Advertisers still love this title for what it delivers: a huge audience of devoted readers (and shoppers). ME Charla Lawhon’s not-so-serious celebrity worship remains the favorite airplane read of a good many media buyers.

6. FHM

Revenue Up: $28.3 million (108.1%)
Ad Pages: +283.5/+51.01%
Since 1999: n/a
Circulation: 1,061,122 (+25.7%)

The upstart in the competitive men’s field, this laddie book is gaining its own fan club of young men. FHM has been able to break new ad categories this year on the strength of its growing circulation and own brand of humor.

7. Cooking Light

Revenue Up: $13.0 million (20.2%)
Ad Pages: +59.6/+4.9%
Since 1999: +17%
Circulation:1,574,194 (+0.8%)

Part healthy living, part cookbook, Cooking Light has a devoted readership and a circ that continues to grow (15 rate base increases in 15 years). Advertisers like its mass reach and squeaky-clean pink sheet.

8. Maxim

Revenue Up: $26.8 million (17.5%)
Ad Pages: +27.5/+2.3%
Since 1999: +21.8%
Circulation: 2,512,090 (-1.6%)

The laddie that started it all remains a monster among men’s titles, but it’s starting to show its maturity as circulation slows. Ad pages continue to climb, but the challenge here is to get advertisers to pony up as rate base increases.

9. Shape

Revenue Up: $15.9 million (21.8%)
Ad Pages: +133.4/+15.6%
Since 1999: +23.3%
Circulation: 1,643,816 (+4.0%)

The healthiest title in a very fit category, Shape outmuscled the competition with strong circulation and advertising gains. A redesign, renewed focus on edit meant newsstand sales lost nothing even after a $1 cover price hike.

10. Allure

Revenue Up: $6.9 million (10.9%)
Ad Pages: +38.1/+3.3%
Since 1999: +6.3%
Circulation: 949,669 (+0.4%)

In the tough fashion/beauty category, this book offers a point of differentiation. In recent years editor Linda Wells has broadened the edit, opening up more opportunities for advertisers while freshening the design. Buyers have taken notice.