Hearst has met what seemed like a lofty goal, according to Mashable: 1 million tablet subscribers for its print portfolio—which includes Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Popular Mechanics. This is an increase of 400,000 since the end of 2011.
Hearst did not meet its goal until the end of March because of a surprise slowdown in the digital subscription market. Growth rate fell from 10 percent to15 percent at the end of 2011 to 5 percent to 7 percent in the summer and fall of 2012; since then, it has climbed back to 10 percent.
Cosmo alone boasts a digital circulation of 175,269—6 percent of the magazine's total circulation.
John Loughlin, executive vp of Hearst, attributes digital subscription expansion to better-targeted email campaigns and a marketing campaign by all-you-can-read monthly tablet app Next Issue Media. Loughlin told Mashable that sampler issues in Apple's newsstand led to "meaningful conversions," boosted by app content pulled from magazines' websites.
Hearst's digital subscriptions still only represent a little over 3 percent of its total customer base. The numbers reflect the fact that tablet subscriptions were not common until iTunes began supporting them in mid-2011, and Hearst has been slow to adopt a digital model because profit margins for digital are far lower than those for print. Another factor is affordability for the consumer. Because digital storefronts like iTunes take a 30 percent cut, Hearst's digital titles tend to be more expensive than their print versions, and Hearst also does not give away a free tablet edition as does Condé Nast.
In February, president David Carey said that he thinks Hearst will have 3 million digital subscribers—10 percent of the company's total subscribers—by 2016.