Because There Aren't Enough Weeklies Now?

Exclusive: Bauer Plans to Barge Into Crowded Market With 2 New Titles

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NEW YORK ( -- Despite crowded newsstands, Bauer Publishing wants to add two magazines to racks as soon as possible.

The company is pressing ahead on planned weeklies with very different editorial missions. The first is a very photo-heavy global roundup of weird-but-true news and arresting images. From the description, it sounds similar to the monthly called Shock that Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. will introduce May 31. But Hachette admits Shock will probably skew male; Bauer is said to hope for a title that appeals to women as much as guys.

The second title in the pipeline has been described internally as a cross between Hearst Magazines' Cosmopolitan and Wenner Media's Us Weekly but will sell for close to $2, according to someone with knowledge of the plans. Cosmo retails for $3.99; Us Weekly's cover price is $3.49.

Whether and when each makes it to newsstands remains to be seen. Launching any magazine is an expensive proposition for Bauer, a frugal company that would have to pay handsomely for new pocket space at checkout lanes. Bauer executives declined to comment.

But the arrival of either title could pressure existing titles in unexpected ways. If the photo-centric weekly skews male and gets traction -- which would be no small feat -- it could take share from men's monthlies. That has already happened in Britain, where young-skewing titles like Time Inc.'s Nuts and Emap Consumer Media's Zoo have won men away from more established but less frequent books.

And if Bauer launches another weekly women's title at a low price point, it will hope not to cannibalize its own very successful In Touch Weekly and Life & Style Weekly -- but to draw readers away from competitors' more expensive magazines.

Recent hits
Bauer does not pack the same punch as powerhouses Time Inc. or Conde Nast Publications, but it specializes in newsstand sales and has turned out some hits in recent years. In Touch reported average paid circulation of 1.2 million during the second half of 2005, up 15.5% from last-half 2004, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Its ad pages rose 38.4% during 2005 for a total of 652.7, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. And Life & Style, which was introduced in November 2004, reported average paid circulation of 600,068 during the second half of 2005. Its ad pages in 2005 totaled 402.3.

Paid circulation at its biggest title, Woman's World, fell 4.6% to 1.5 million during second-half 2005; its ad pages fell 2.5% to 347 last year. Paid circulation at another of its women's books, First For Women, fell 5% to 1.4 million during second-half 2005; ad pages there 3.2% to 594.8 last year.

Still a hunger
Robert Castardi, president, Curtis Circulation, said too much is made of the cascade of magazines already on newsstands. "There are some retailers that are crowded and some that want to be crowded," he said. "There aren't too many magazines. Thank God for the new ones coming out every day because without that, we wouldn't have the Oprahs, the Maxims and the In Styles of the world."

Publishers were more skeptical. "It is too crowded and the newsstand market is very tight with all of the new weeklies," one said. "I also don't see the hole in the consumer side of the newsstand market at this point. If anything, I would imagine that there will be at least one fewer weekly over the next 12 to 18 months."

And Eric Blankfein, senior VP-director of communication-channel planning, Horizon Media, said openings were slim for any kind of launch. "Given the failure of Justice, which tried to capture recent celebrity stumblings, I'm not sure that there is going to be a breakthrough launch that will have the impact than an In Style or a redone Us had years back, or even In Touch more recently," he said. "If there is to be success with these, it will likely be on a much smaller stage."

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