The Buzz

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IT HAS COME TO THIS: The Buzz cannot remember-really-exactly how many publishers are launching, are testing a launch, or readying a British invasion of another celebrity weekly magazine. So let us count the ways: The latter is Richard Desmond, who turbocharged the category in Britain via his OK!, which will now pull a Maxim and storm these shores. TV Guide's Inside TV comes this spring. American Media mulls Celebrity Living Weekly. And Bauer Publishing just launched Life & Style Weekly.

Why? Follow the money. Reps at Us Weekly say its most recent dish on the Brad-Jen split-"How Jen Found Out" -sold a record 1.2 million copies. Bauer Publications' newer/cheaper In Touch averaged newsstand sales, each week, over 1 million for the last half of '04. And such sales are the cleanest and simplest revenue stream for magazines, refreshingly un-dependent on advertiser whims or the increasingly scrutinized voodoo of subscription agents.

The bigger question is how long can all this last. Press key players at any of these and they remain stiff-upper-lipped, at least on the record. Are they worried? Maybe. Or maybe it's just another sign of magazines becoming more like music-hits, not franchises. But so long as you sell a million each week, it doesn't look too bad. Even if it doesn't last forever. Because it can't last forever. Right? On second thought, don't answer that.

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