Mag Bag: 'OK!' Loses $450K A Week
OK! Loses $450K A Week
The American edition of Northern + Shell's OK! lost an average of about $450,000 per week last year, according to the New York Post, which cited figures from the British government's agency for tracking corporate performance. The government organization, Companies House, said Northern + Shell's U.S. operations -- which consist solely of OK, a weekly celebrity glossy -- lost a total $23.4 million in 2008. That means it's on course to lose a total $130 million by its four-year anniversary in August, making it more expensive than Conde Nast's failed business magazine Portfolio.
This news is bad but not surprising, given the magazine's well-publicized struggle to break even over the last year, as newsstand sales plunged from 700,000 in summer 2008 to just 300,000 by fall. This has resulted in a number of high-profile shakeups in the magazine's masthead, which have accelerated during the economic downturn, as N + S (like other publishers) finds it more difficult to borrow money because of the credit crunch.
The revolving door at OK! has seen the entry and exit of Kent Brownridge, formerly of Alpha Media, publisher of Maxim, who served from September 2008-January 2009; Editor in Chief Susan Toepfer, who lasted from October 2008-January 2009; and creative director Jason Oliver Nixon, who led all-important cover design for less than a month from May-June of this year. Almost all of the editors recruited by Brownridge and Toepfer were also fired.
In fairness, Brownridge and Toepfer had a difficult job, as Northern + Shell mandated big cost cuts that scaled back editorial budgets for exclusive celebrity photos and scoops, the premium content of the genre. In a sign of impending trouble, Brownridge tried to cut costs by switching to double issues in December and January. He also slashed the cover price from $3.49 to $2.99, to no avail.
Rupert Murdoch Sells Weekly Standard
While his media portfolio shows a certain ideological consistency, Rupert Murdoch isn't a sentimental sort, as demonstrated by his decision to sell The Weekly Standard, a noted journal of conservative opinion. The magazine, which has a circulation of about 83,000, was sold to Clarity Media Group, which plans to boost the title's circulation by an unspecified amount. The magazine launched in 1995 under the editorial direction of prominent conservative pundit William Kristol.
Men's Health Intros More Content via Mobile
Men's Health is building on earlier innovation in the area of print-mobile interactivity with a new feature that allows iPhone users to access a variety of Men's Health content providing more detail on the magazine's editorial content. The iPhone app delivers text, photos, directions, and interactive progress measurement, expanding on workout tips in the magazine. At $1.99, it also promises to bolster Rodale's circulation revenue, an increasingly important source of income for magazine publishers beset by steep declines in ad pages.
In April of last year, Men's Health introduced advertising that can be "read" by the cameras on many mobile devices, allowing the reader to take a picture, send it to the publisher, and receive more information or take advantage of a promotional offer. The ad is processed by an image-recognition computer program created by SnapTell. The promotional information tailored to the specific ad is then immediately sent to the consumer.
Crain's New York Business Cuts 5 Issues
Feeling the advertising squeeze, Crain's New York Business is slimming down by five issues this year, from 51 to 46. This includes six double issues, an increasingly popular strategy that allows magazine publishers to save money on production and distribution. Some of the double issues are scheduled for national holidays including July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and New Year's.