New York magazine surprised the media world with its announcement that it will go twice-monthly, but the high printing and distribution costs associated with publishing a weekly magazine aren’t lost on other titles. Here’s how other weeklies stack up:
People: As Time Inc.’s cash cow, it may be the least likely to reduce frequency in the near future, but the long-term trends aren’t in its favor. Its 3.5 million circ has been relatively stable over the past five years, but newsstand sales, an indicator of consumer demand, have tumbled 45 percent. It hasn’t replaced that with many digital copies (its digital circulation was 71,181 as of June 30), and there's no shortage of competition from online celebrity news sites.
Time: The top brass there insists it has an important place in print, but the shift to digital reading seems to put the paper product at a bigger disadvantage than most. (Time already quietly cut frequency by three issues this year.) Time’s profits are a fraction of what they used to be, and while it’s stepped up efforts to grow its online audience, with new hires and a responsive redesign, its Web footprint is dwarfed by other news sites and it faces the same issue New York does of replacing revenue from lost ad pages, which fell 31 percent from 2008 to 2012.
Bloomberg Businessweek: It got a reprieve and new investment when Bloomberg LP swooped in and bought it in 2009, but Businessweek is still battling the odds as a weekly purveyor of business news. Ad pages fell 21 percent from 2008 to 2012, and while its circulation has edged up over the past five years, it counted on more than 24,000 verified (public-place) copies to make its rate base in the first half of 2013.
The New Yorker: It’s shed 26 percent of its ad pages from 2008 to 2012, and while its Web site is celebrated editorially, it’s tiny in online terms, at 3.5 million uniques (comScore). Under Condé Nast, The New Yorker may be lavished with resources, but even the Newhouses have been curtailing their excesses of the past. The New Yorker had 47 issues on the calendar this year, and while diehard fans might not take too well to a frequency cut, it might be a blessing in disguise for those who are guilt-ridden by unread issues.
Entertainment Weekly: See People, above. EW has a loyal following, but its review-heavy editorial content is easily replicated online. Its ad pages plunged 17 percent from 2008 to 2012. And while total circulation has stayed relatively stable in the past five years, it’s collecting less per annual subscription ($29.71 in 2012 versus $34.51 in 2008) and leaned on its 58,263 verified copies to make its circ guarantee as of June 30.
—Contributing by Emma Bazilian