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Time Inc., the nation's largest magazine company, has crossed an important threshold in its quest to reinvent itself as more than just a print publisher.
For the first time ever, Time Inc.'s websites in November attracted a larger audience than its print magazines, according to data from ComScore, which measures web and mobile traffic, and GfK MRI, which keeps track of print audiences.
Unique visitors to Time Inc.'s network of sites -- including Time.com, People.com and SportsIllustrated.com -- across desktop and mobile devices was 107 million in November.
Time Inc.'s print audience for fall 2014 was 104 million.
This is an important mile marker for Time Inc., which is looking to its websites to help offset declining print revenue. A large digital audience could mean more attention from advertisers. At the same time, however, print advertising -- even in decline -- remains a more lucrative business for Time Inc., which can fetch higher ad rates in print than online.
The audience numbers also come with a couple of caveats.
The 107 million is U.S. visitors to Time Inc.'s domestic sites as well as the websites of its U.K. magazines, such as Wallpaper, Horse and Hound or Yachting and Boat World. The print audience, meanwhile, measures U.S. readers of its domestic titles only, like People, Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and InStyle.
"It's still a valid comparison because U.S.-based users are consuming more of Time Inc.'s digital content than print content," said Daniel Kile, a spokesman for Time Inc.
Additionally, the 107 million is not ComScore's official ranking for Time Inc.'s sites, because for that measurement, ComScore does not include U.S. traffic to the company's foreign sites.
So, subtract U.S. traffic to the foreign sites and Time Inc.'s network attracted 99.4 million unique visitors across desktop and mobile in November. It's not quite enough to beat the company's own print audience, but it does easily outpace Time Inc.'s magazine rivals on digital, including Conde Nast (79 million unique visitors in November), Meredith (69 million uniques) and Hearst Digital Media (45 million).