Soap Opera Declines Cause Fallout for Magazines

AMI folds 'Soap Opera Weekly' as category shrinks

The decline of daytime soaps has taken its toll on the publishing business. A year after taking control of the publication, American Media Inc. has folded Soap Opera Weekly. In a separate move, AMI also shut down Pixie, a newsstand-only teen celebrity title.

There are only four daytime soaps left, including ABC’s General Hospital and NBC’s Days of Our Lives—down from a peak of 19 in the 1970s—and the magazines devoted to them have seen a corresponding decline.

Soap Opera Weekly’s total circ fell nearly 50 percent in the past four years to 107,817, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. In April 2011, Source Interlink handed control of Soap Opera Weekly and the bigger Soap Opera Digest, as well as Pixie, to American Media in a licensing agreement. The celebrity and fitness magazine publisher assumed responsibility for editorial, advertising, marketing and distribution duties for the titles.

"Due to the decline in readership of the soap opera market, we did not see long term growth, so AMI/Source decided to discontinue publishing Soap Opera Weekly," an AMI rep said in an email.

Soap Opera Digest continues to publish, but it’s declined dramatically too. Its circulation tumbled 40 percent to 292,219 in the second half of 2011 while ad pages declined 9 percent to 732 in 2011, per the Publishers Information Bureau. Soap Opera Weekly subscriptions will be fulfilled by Soap Opera Digest, and the handful of staffers who worked for the defunct title are now being used as freelancers at American Media.

As for other soap opera titles, they haven’t fared so well either. Soaps in Depth, a series created by Bauer Publications, discontinued one of its three versions many years ago. ABC Soaps in Depth and CBS Soaps in Depth continue to publish, but their circulations have declined too. (They publish every other week and have a combined circulation of about 200,000.)

“There’s been a decline, but they’re still profitable,” said Ian Scott, president of Bauer Advertising Sales. “The high price tag [of $3.99] enables us to continue to publish them.”

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