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Hearst US shows the way to digital subs: 300,000 and counting

by on 4 Oct, 2011

The very disappointing digital subscription figures from ABC for UK magazines in August may give the impression that content has to be free online.  But news from Hearst in the USA shows  that paid digital circulation on tablets and e-readers can work.  Hearst US has over 300,000 paid digital subscribers for its digital versions of its magazines.  This is a 10-fold increase in 12 months.

UK poor figrues

Only 2 UK magazines got over 1,000 digital subscribers: Men’s Health with 1,746 and HELLO! with 1,165.

  • Men’s Health 1,746
  • HELLO!  1,165
  • Stuff  981
  • Esquire 825
  • Harpers Bazaar 622
  • Wired 622
  • GQ 574
  • Tatler  359
  • House & Garden  351
  • New Scientist 349
  • Autocar 348
  • Cosmopolitan 259
  • Vogue 185
  • Four Four Two 178
  • World Of Interiors 168
  • Conde Nast Traveller  102

Not so Wired

You would have thought that Wired’s subscribers would gladly go online in large numbers: but no, only 622 are paying up for the digital versions.

Hearst in the USA has 28 websites and 14 mobile sites for its magazines.  It is platform agnostic.  Which means it has invested a lot.

As Tim Dawson argues in New Model Journalism, you have to invest to make a success of digital subs.  Conde Nast is ahead of the game in the UK with 6 digital mags in the listing and a total of 2,361 digital subscribers.

  1. Conde Nast        6 mags  2,361 subs
  2. Nat Mags             1 mag     1,746 subs
  3. Hearst                   3 mags  1,704 subs
  4. Haymarket          3 mags  1,507 subs

With the UK market perhaps 10% of the US market, that means that the UK publishers are today behind where Hearst US was 12 months ago.  All to play for.

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