May 12, 2015 Last Updated 9:17 am

The Red Bulletin magazine touts first BPA audit of its circulation as it marks its 4th year in the U.S.

The magazine, a pioneer in digital editions, says it plans to raise its rate base to 550,000 in 2015, but digital readership is revealed to be disappointingly low

The Austrian media company Red Bull Media House, an offshoot of the energy drink maker, today said it has released the first BPA audit for The Red Bulletin magazine. The magazine had reached 527,912 qualified readers with its October issue, making its 520,000 rate base, which the company said it plans to raise to 550,000 in 2015.

The drink brand has become a full fledged media company now, producing TV shows, books, music and more, in addition to its branded magazine.

In 2011, though, it was the launch of its iPad app that got a lot of people’s attention including TNM. The magazine had just been launched in the U.S. and copies were inserted into certain newspapers and the digital edition first produced. That first issue featured Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants on the cover (the Giants had won their first World Series since the move west).

This was still early days in digital editions – so early, in fact, that the video I did at the time was simply shot with a camera:

Since the launch of the magazine Red Bull Media House has moved on to many other projects, while growing its magazine’s reach. But today’s BPA audit, while something to be proud of for the publisher, and an excellent achievement, is also a bit depressing for other digital publishers.

According to the first BPA statement, The Red Bulletin has a total digital circulation of 26,459, but the three months reported – October, November and December – seems to show that digital circulation is declining slightly each month.

No company is in a better position to make digital editions work. Red Bull Media House is producing its media for both marketing reasons, as well as profit. Because of this, the company can stay committed to its digital magazine no matter what the numbers have to say.

And The Red Bulletin has remained a great digital magazine. When first launched in was a tour de force, among the finest examples of the digital magazine platform.

It still is, but there are now two versions of the magazine available inside both the Apple App Store and Google Play – one that is a native digital edition, and the other a replica of the print editions. This replica edition can also be found in the Zinio digital newsstand (but not in Next Issue).

To say that the two editions differ would be an understatement (see below). One fears, however, that at some point, if things do not turn around at Apple soon, that Red Bull Media House may decide to abandon its native digital publishing efforts. Many others have already done so, and if Red Bull can not make a go of native digital editions, who can?

Maybe there is more to the story here than the BPA audit reveals. Only Zinio is mentioned in the audit statement, maybe things are not as desperate as they seem. We can only hope.

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