LOS ANGELES (AP) — Newsweek’s decision to stop publishing a print edition after 80 years and bet its life entirely on a digital future may be more a commentary on its own problems than a definitive statement on the health of the magazine industry.
Magazine ad revenue in the U.S. is seen rising 2.6 percent this year to $18.3 billion, according to research firm eMarketer.
That would be the third increase in three years, driven mainly by gains in digital ad sales, though print ads are expected to be flat.
Paid magazine subscriptions were up 1.1 percent in the first half of the year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. And while single-copy sales at newsstands are down 9.6 percent, overall circulation — the bulk of which is in print — is steady compared to a year ago.
This year, Newsweek’s total circulation is down to about 1.5 million, less than half of what it was five years earlier, even including about 29,000 digital copies.
Meanwhile, circulation of rival Time magazine is down from about 4 million in 2006 to 3.3 million this year, a decline of just 19 percent.
General news format magazines have been challenged with the rise of news reading on the Internet, much of which is free.
And Newsweek isn’t the first to drop its print product. US News & World Report dropped its weekly print edition years ago and now focuses on the Web and special print editions.
Unlike Newsweek, many publications are taking steps to add digital formats while maintaining the print product, which is still the mainstay of their business.