Circulation Cuts Come to Ladies' Home Journal and Traditional Home

Part of Industry Trend to Counter Rising Costs, Competition for Advertisers

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NEW YORK ( -- Meredith Corp. has decided to cut the paid circulation guarantees it gives advertisers on two big magazines, Ladies' Home Journal and Traditional Home.

The guarantee, called rate base, for Ladies' Home Journal will fall nearly 16% from 3.8 million to 3.2 million. Rate base for Traditional Home is getting cut almost 11% from 950,000 to 850,000. The company will also test higher subscription and newsstand prices for both titles.

The changes, which take effect next year, reflect the ongoing story of much of the magazine business.

For decades publishers chased huge circulations -- offering subscribers dirt cheap prices and paying heavy costs for direct marketing, paper, printing and distribution -- because advertising more than paid the bills. But costs have risen while competition from new media has made the fight for advertisers more difficult.

Many magazines have cut rate base in recent years, including Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Reader's Digest, TV Guide, Playboy, Prevention, OK, Outdoor Life, Star and Woman's Day.

Some are also trying to increase subscription prices, hoping to rely a little more on revenue from their readers and depend a little less exclusively on revenue from advertisers.

"As we complete our current fiscal year, and look forward to the year ahead, we expect that there will be significantly increased costs in both the areas of postage and paper that will directly impact some of our businesses and brands," the company said in a statement.

Ad pages at Ladies' Home Journal from the January through July issues fell 16.2% from the first seven months of last year, while ad pages at Traditional Home from January through July increased 6.4%, according to the Media Industry Newsletter. Monthly magazines as a whole saw ad pages edge up by a very slight notch, increasing 0.2%, according to the newsletter.

Ladies' Home Journal's paid and verified subscriptions increased 1.5% in the second half of last year, compared with the second half a year earlier, while single-copy sales fell 15.9% for a combined 0.5% overall paid and verified increase, according to the magazine's report to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Traditional Home saw paid and verified subscriptions slip 0.6%, single-copy sales decline 1.1% and overall paid and verified circulation fall 0.7%.

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