Magazine Hot List 2010: 10 Under 60

Traditionally, the annual Hot List and 10 Under 60 Hot List recognized those magazines with a track record of standout advertising revenue and page growth. But in light of last year’s industry declines and magazines’ efforts to grow their business via other platforms, ad-page growth alone no longer does justice to magazines’ relevance.

While we didn’t abandon ad pages, we put greater focus on other measures of success this year, including circulation quality, with particular attention to newsstand sales, strength of engagement, smart brand extensions, and ability to find new ways to engage consumers and charge them for content.

The revenue bar hasn’t changed; to qualify for the Hot List, a magazine still must have taken in at least $60 million in annual revenue, while the titles that flesh out the 10 Under 60 List fall below that threshold. Start clicking to see who made the grade…

With a can’t-miss combo of celebrity and food in easy-to-digest package, newbie Food Network Magazine tops 1 million circ in under a year and easily soars to top of our “small list.” With its “Cook Like a Star” promise, it’s a sure bet that the Hearst-Food Network partnership won’t be small for long. Rate base set to rise again in July/August to 1.25 million.

Recession, reschmession: While high-end market sags, People spinoff that’s all about dressing like a star (affordably) continues to thrive. As a result, this “mini InStyle” bags more than 80 new clients in ’09, from Tiffany to Target. Paging up 24% in ’09. Rate base up to 725,000 in ’10 for fifth straight year after circ climbs nearly 9 percent. 

A star lineup of writers has helped put this 153-year-old journal in limelight, but The Atlantic is building up serious sidelines to buttress its print business. Ad pages dip on its toughened rate stance, but Web revenue (up 115 percent in ’09) and events (State of the Union for Healthcare, Washington Ideas Forum) now nearly half of ad/sponsorship dollars.

Good Year For: Accountability, as The Week gambles on ad guarantee and nets 40 new advertisers in ’09 (Merrill Lynch, Ford Taurus). The Dennis-owned indie also upped commitment to ad-recall measurement, another win for transparency. Bad Year For: Traditional newsweeklies. While The Week grew pages 9.5 percent, its rivals posted double-digit losses.

Time Inc.’s Walmart-distributed title solidifies its hold as America fast becomes nation of coupon clippers. Circ up nearly 11 percent in second half ’09. Reader-based ad programs (Grocery Challenge contest, sampling program) drive marketer appeal (Coty, Kotex), while coupon-based Web site reinforces service message. New cookbook and SIPs introduced this year.

Staying true to its brand, Fast Company brings fresh approach to business category while most rivals cut back. Event-based, cross-platform programs (Fast Cities, 100 Most Creative People) bring innovation message to life, scoring clients like Porsche, Morgans Hotel Group. Helping offset decline from auto, 33 new advertisers (Delta, Pepsico) come on board.

Bring on the bacon, y’all: Southern comfort-food queen Deen is serving up all that’s bad for us, and we can’t resist. Ditto for growing roster of blue-chip clients (Kraft, Unilever) who like the five-year-old Hoffman Media title’s strong circ ($3.15 per sub issue) and regional appeal. There’s more to come: spinoff title by sons Jamie and Bobby, new sidelines (cooks’ club, show home).

Rodale pub right on trend as healthy, sustainable eating takes root. OG may be tiny, but multiplatform events like WaterWorks Project, Eat Like a Hero bring big payoff to partners (Nature’s Path, Aveeno). Pages up three straight years (to 202 in ’09), rate base up three times in four years, to 275,000. New design, bigger trim size poised to keep title fresh with readers, advertisers.

After buying it in 2006, Meredith buffed this hipster shelter title while maintaining its “smart, crunchy” appeal. Ideas for reusing neckties and wine crates appeal to eco-conscious creative class, while advertisers like bimonthly’s youthful appeal; 32% of business new in ’09. Title took a risk dropping direct-response ads in a recession, but new accounts (Hyundai Sonata, Dyson) helped replace it.

Post Gourmet, Saveur has carved out its slice of the high end of epicurean category. It’s the only established food title to grow pages in ’10 (+12.7 percent), with help from new nonendemics (Lufthansa, BMW, Apple). Readers pay top dollar for “approachable but still epicurean” book ($2 per subscriber issue), while Saveur cuts back on less desirable verified, digital subs in ’10. Beyond print, EIC James Oseland raises profile as Bravo’s Top Chef Masters judge.

Sources: Publishers Information Bureau, Audit Bureau of Circulations, Affinity, company information.