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6 Take-Aways from the Digital Dashboard - 1st Half 2016

The Digital Magazine Dashboard for the period ending June 30, 2016 has gone topsy turvy. While
there has been some change in absolute numbers, the big change is in how they are being reported. Read below for 6 Top Take-aways.

For those new to our digital dashboard, the Top 30 magazines are summarized each half by their paid digital circulation.  The list can fluctuate each half as magazines gain in digital circulation and while others are bumped from the list.  Every half year, 30 magazine titles are compared to the same list of magazines from the year prior.

One of the changes for this reported period is we have taken out all membership based digital titles out of the report. That means both Game Informer, which has a huge digital circulation and IEEE Spectrum, a B2B publication that comes with membership, have been deleted from our list of 30 Top Digital magazines allowing us to get a better picture of what subscription-based publications are doing. 

  • As mentioned in the introduction (topsy turvy), sales on the platform Texture, formerly Next Issue, are now reported under “multi-title digital programs” and are considered a subscription. In prior periods, these sales were reported under digital single copy sales. For those of you who are not yet on the Texture platform, Texture customers, like Netflix customers, access over 200 magazines for a certain monthly fee. Publishers are paid for the amount of time the customer spends on their particular title over the month. The service itself is a SAAS (Service as a Subscription) model, with the customer billed until they cancel their order. So it makes sense that the magazine itself would be able to count the sale as a subscription. There is of course a possibility that during the course of that month, the customer will not access the digital magazine in question. But the hit there is to the revenue of the publisher, not to the audited circulation. In this way it mimics print subscriptions more in that we as publishers know we send the magazine to the paying customer, but we cannot verify if the customer has actually read the magazine. 
  • Readly, with a similar business model to Texture, is now also mentioned in the AAM statements. Readly claims over 1,000 magazines available for $9.99, and over 300 of those 1,000 magazines come from the United States. 
  • Interestingly, all but one of the TOP 5 Digital Circulation  titles is a mainstream magazine with a thriving print product. The one exception is NYLON, which is primarily digital (70% of its circulation is digital). 
  • 30% of our sample have between 20% and 70% of their total circulation in digital, higher than past years. 10% find themselves with between 10% and 19%, and 60% are between 1% and 9 percent. Active Interest Media (disclaimer: a former digital client of ours) makes up 4 of the top 5 with top digital circulation. Those titles are BackpackerClean EatingVegetarian Times and Yoga Journal. The smallest percent of digital circulation for these four is Yoga Journal(27%), the largest Clean Eating (34%). 
Digital Dashboard 8-Percent of circ.png
  • Bottom line: Digital Circulation is slightly up year over year, with the big increases in Sponsored subs (up 32%), and multi-title digital programs, now making up about a quarter of all digital circulation. The losers this year are digital single copy (with the re-categorization of Texture sales from single copy to subscriptions) and individual digital subscriptions, down 11% over last year. 
  • Turning to digital newsstand stores, Regional News and Science are the only two categories that are up in number of titles from April to October of 2016, with the Apple Newsstand overall seeing a 7% drop in the last half year. This is the first time we’ve seen a drop in quantity of titles sold at Apple Newsstand since we began this Digital Magazine Dashboard in 2013. Nook, Amazon and Google play information is also included in the Dashboard.

Download the entire Digital Magazine Dashboard (click below) to draw your own conclusions and let us know what you see!