Magazine Readership Inches Upward

Celebrity weeklies prove surprisingly strong

Despite a slight decline in overall magazine circulation in the first half of this year, the number of magazine readers in the U.S. is actually up slightly, according to the latest GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer, which tracks print and digital magazine readership.

Total magazine readership across print and digital editions increased about 1.6 percent from fall 2012 to fall 2013, while that of print alone increased 1.1 percent. Digital readership grew a healthy 49 percent. But it remains a scant 1.6 percent of the total magazine audience and slowed down in growth from the 83 year over year increase reported this past spring. The numbers don't tell the full story about magazine readership, however, as the survey doesn't measure reading on magazine websites.

Fast-growing titles included Teen Vogue (up 39 percent), The Atlantic (up 34 percent) and Esquire (up 29 percent).

In terms of categories, the strongest were thought-leader (The Atlantic, The Economist and The New Yorker also saw double-digit percent increases), fashion glossies (every title in the category grew its readership) and food magazines (Food Network Magazine alone added 1.8 million readers).

Celebrity and entertainment weeklies proved surprisingly strong in readership despite weak newsstand sales. Life & Style, OK! and Us Weekly each saw double-digit percentage gains, while People, In Touch, Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone also added readers. Only Star, down 22 percent, lost readers.

On the flip side, two of the weakest categories were automotive books (the relatively small Car Craft had the biggest decrease in the category, of 28 percent) and women’s service magazines (among them, only Better Homes and Gardens managed not to lose readers).

ESPN continued to have the biggest digital readership—1.4 million people—followed by TV Guide (861,000 digital readers), WebMD Magazine (700,000) and Food Network Magazine (617,000).

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