August 13, 2015 Last Updated 2:33 pm

Digital circulation growth for largest US magazines essentially flat in latest TNM report

For the magazines with 1 million or more in paid circulation, growth in digital readership appears to have stopped, falling 1% overall, though one title’s recent sale skewed the report’s results

The sales of digital editions of US magazines appears to have not only slowed in growth, but actually declined slightly, in the latest TNN report on digital circulation.

The report looks at the digital circulations of magazines with 1 million or more in circulation, and uses information taken from the latest AAM Snapshot report and compares that with the December 2015 publishers statements. (The reason for using the December statements is that not all titles have had their December audits released – and in one magazine’s case, their June 2015 publisher’s statement is already available.)

The report shows that only a small number of magazines have been able to sustain any momentum with digital editions, with most titles reporting good growth just recently added to the Next Issue digital magazine service. Overall, digital circulation fell 1 percent, though if Shape magazine were dropped from the report, digital circulation would have been essentially flat. (Shape was acquired from American Media by Meredith, and beginning with the May issue, Meredith will stop printing its own title, Fitness, and incorporated it into Shape.)

Digital Magazines

Eleven magazines still do not report any digital readership, while Game Informer continues to lead the pack in total digital circ – though its unique readership model makes in an outlier among consumer magazines.

Magazine titles that have been added to the Next Issue digital magazine service performed best, something see in the TNM reports on major publishers earlier this year, while the other magazines that had previously depended on the Apple Newsstand for digital circulation growth showed the weakest performance.

Maxim-135Maxim magazine is one title that showed strong digital growth. The title was added to Next Issue late last year and whether this is the reason for the growth may not be known until the magazine’s next publishers statement.

The December 2014 statement did show over 10K more in single copy digital circulation compared to the June statement, leading one to believe that the next statement should confirm that growth in single copy digital may be the source of the overall growth. (Next Issue readership is recorded as single copy as the service uses an all-you-can-read subscription model.)

  • Ed Coburn 2 years ago

    The distorting factor in this analysis is the shortcoming of how AAM reports on digital circulation. When reporting a combination off subscription, publishers are forced to choose to report these as print or digital but not both. In most cases they are reporting combo subscriptions as print. The flat or slightly declining digital sales you note could be entirely the result of publishers selling more combo sales (which would be a good thing by most measures). Of course we don’t know. The Mequoda Group has encouraged AAM and participating publishers to revise how it counts digital circulation to avoid this problem.