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Posted by: Jon Fine on February 21, 2006
Magazines sell ads based on rate base. Rate base is circulation you guarantee to advertisers. If you miss rate base, your advertisers sort of have carte blanche to make your life miserable—demand cash or free ads; hammer you for future discounts because your circ is weak, etc.
The following consumer magazines missed rate base for the last half of 2005, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ just-released Fas-Fax report:
Discover (Rate base 850,000; reported circulation 846,712)
Ebony (Rate base 1.6 million; reported circulation 1,480,946)
Fitness (Rate base 1.5 million; reported circulation 1,488,657)
J-14 (Rate base 550,000; reported circulation 500,033)
Parenting* (Paid rate base 1,950,000; reported paid circulation 1,933,929)
Parents* (Paid rate base 2,055,000; reported paid circulation 2,050,920)
Playboy (Rate base 3,150,000; reported circulation 3.005,753)
Soap Opera Digest (Rate base 500,000; reported circulation 494,745)
Soap Opera Weekly (Rate base 225,000; 218,786)
Spin (Rate base 550,000; reported circulation 540,901)
Vibe (Rate base 850,000; reported circulation 836,611)
No Reported Rate Base, But …
National Enquirer’s overall circulation falls 21.3% to 1,177,974, spurred largely by a 24.9% drop in single-copy sales.
More Bad News
The magazine with the single best name in existence, Ducks Unlimited, missed rate base as well. (Rate base 550,000; reported circulation 549,585)
(*-Parenting magazines often combine paid and free circulation in their rate bases.)
The media, entertainment and marketing worlds continue to shapeshift on a near-daily basis, as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. Where is it all going? No one really knows. But on this blog BusinessWeek’s media writers Tom Lowry and Ron Grover promise to provide ample helpings of scoop, provocation, and sharp analysis as they track and annotate this constantly changing terrain.