10 February 2012
Hot Covers! One Prince, Three Sisters, Lots of Breakups
Wall Street Journal reported
What grabbed shoppers' eyes at the grocery checkout this past year? "Teresa's Prison Nightmare: My Life Without Joe" and "Teen Mom Farrah: Why She Gave Up Her Baby."
For celebrity magazines, this is the week of reckoning. The year-end Audit Bureau of Circulations numbers are tallied, revealing which celebrities and story lines attracted the most readers on newsstands—and who bombed.
People who owe their fame to reality TV accounted for about 40% of the covers of the six major celebrity weekly magazines in 2011, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. And editors say they have been relying more and more on reality-TV stars to fill their pages over the past few years.
The principals on the MTV show "Teen Mom," which features Leah Messer, headlined nine covers of In Touch Weekly last year, more than Kate Middleton, Jennifer Lopez or Demi Moore who featured on seven covers in total. American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer and Star magazine, in January launched Reality Weekly, a magazine devoted exclusively to the TV genre.
While exclusive news items about celebrity weddings, pregnancies and breakups remain reliable hits, a look at the numbers reveals some changes from years past. Uplifting stories about celebrities or celebrities' accounts of overcoming adversity—long mainstay magazine fare—aren't resonating with readers. Also, readers were interested in celebrities' pregnancies, but not so much in coverage of their children.
And the Kardashians, any member of the family, sell magazines. A Kardashian was the subject of about one of every six celebrity-weekly cover stories in 2011, and was a top-five seller for four of the six major titles. Kim Kardashian, the standard-bearer of the reality-TV franchise, was also on the top-selling covers of monthlies Glamour and Cosmopolitan.
As a group, the six top weekly magazines posted a sales drop of about 14% last year from 2010. Several factors contributed. People aren't going to the grocery store as often, meaning fewer trips through the checkout line where many celebrity weeklies are sold.
Meanwhile, the proliferation of websites and cable shows focused on celebrity gossip has broken up magazines' dominance. By the time the latest crop of publications hits the newsstand on Wednesday, many readers already have a firm grasp of the big story of the week. Another challenge for the weeklies is competition from monthly magazines, which increasingly rely on celebrity covers.
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