The Week: Your ‘Second Source’ for News

Steven Kotok, general manager of American version of The Week since August 2007, says his publication is “a beloved thing but not enough people know about,” which would explain why we were sitting with him in Bryant Park two hours ago discussing Felix Dennis‘ lack of accounting skills. “Felix isn’t a numbers guy,” Kotok told us. “He can’t read a balance sheet.”

But how’s The Week doing? After the jump, Kotok discusses the efforts to break even and why he’s not beholden to ad revenue.

According to Kotok, The Week‘s finally in the black. “We invested a ridiculous amount of money to break even,” he says. Ads were down seven percent during the first quarter of 2008, but given the struggles of other newsweeklies, the decline is acceptable and the GM anticipates 2008 being flat overall.

With 500,000 subscribers paying an average of $50 a year, The Week derives 50 percent of its revenue from subscriptions, a much higher percentage than most magazines. From 2004-2008, the price increased from $20 to its current level, while subscriptions increased 150 percent. Subscription growth will slow going forward. “This year subscription revenue will increase 20 or 30 percent but subs are up five percent,” Kotok says. “[If we see subscriptions growing too fast], we’ll just raise the price again.”

As for competition from news aggregators such as Drudge and Newser, The Week has a secret weapon: It focuses on opinion, not news. “We joke that we’re your second source for news,” Kotok says. “We all know that there’s an Earthquake in China. We surround the issue.”