Newsweek's been under the microscope since Tina Brown took over. So far, things haven't looked good: First-quarter ad pages were down 31 percent year-over-year, and the April 12 issue had just six ads.
But it’s not all bad. Brown’s redesign appears to have been a hit on newsstands.
Newsstand sales of the relaunched Newsweek's first issue, which had Hillary Clinton on the cover, were up 19 percent from the magazine's average from last year, according to point-of-sale data from nine major retail chains compiled by Magazine Information Network. The second and third issues beat the 2010 average by 7 and 21 percent, respectively. (The Newsweek Daily Beast Co., to which Newsweek now belongs, points out that first-half ads had already been booked by the time the two entities officially merged Feb. 1, however, and says that the magazine has lured new advertisers including David Yurman and HP.)
Of course, it's still early, and it's always possible that readers will stop picking up the magazine at newsstands once the buzz dies down. And nearly all of Newsweek's 1.5 million circulation comes from subscriptions, which were down 25 percent in the second half of 2010.
But it's also possible that the people who've gone out and bought Newsweek in its latest form will be hooked, and that new subscriptions will follow. As an incentive, it's currently offering a discount of 90 percent off the cover price for a two-year subscription. At 45 cents an issue, that offer won’t do much to stop the red ink flooding the magazine, but it may give circulation a much-needed boost.