For magazines that publish early in the week, 1996 provided a 53rd Monday, giving them an extra opportunity to generate revenue. But even without the extra issue, the weekly heavyweights owned by Time Inc. would have been the top three finishers in advertising revenue last year.
People was No. 1 (for the sixth straight year), pulling in an estimated $525.6 million, up 20.1% over 1995. Sports Illustrated, aided by the Olympic Games, was No. 2, with $522.1 million, up 19.8%. And Time ranked third, with $439.6 million, up 8.7%.
According to figures released by the Publishers Information Bureau, rounding out the top five were TV Guide, at nearly $403 million, down 1% from 1995, and Newsweek, at $383.7 million, up 15.6%.
Better Homes and Gardens finished sixth, with $335.5 million, up 22.2%.
It was followed by PC Magazine, $318 million, down 3.9%; Business Week, $298.8 million, up 11.7%; Forbes, $222.4 million, up 8.1%, and Woman's Day, $216.9 million, up 9.8%.
Better Homes' gain of 22.2% was the biggest among the top 10 magazines and comes as the magazine marks its 75th anniversary this year.
"The '90s are a wonderful time to be positioned as a magazine about family and homes," said William T. Kerr, chief executive officer of Meredith Corp., which publishes Better Homes. Kerr praised editor in chief Jean LemMon for freshening the magazine's approach in recent years and added that he believes the monthly circulation of 7.6 million still serves the needs of mass-market advertisers at a time when much of the ad dollar is splintered among niche publications.
The performance of Better Homes stood in striking contrast to that of a competitor, Good Housekeeping, which plummeted out of the top 10 as its ad revenue declined 22.6%, to $184.8 million. The big drop, which has drawn attention in the industry like an accident on the side of the road, stemmed in part from Hearst Magazines' decision to cut the guaranteed circulations and raise the ad rates of Good Housekeeping and the company's other publications--a move decried by many leading advertisers. Other Hearst titles suffering significant falloffs in ad revenue were Redbook, Esquire, Country Living and Sports Afield.
Magazines showing impressive increases in ad revenue included Entertainment Weekly (up 39.6%), InStyle (up 104.5%), Men's Health (up 35.5%) and Martha Stewart Living (up 97.1%).
In another recap, Martha Stewart Living was judged the best performer in magazine circulation last year. Capell's Circulation Report, a respected publication that studies readership numbers, newsstand sales and other factors, cited the magazine's growing audience and its "very profitable" file of 200,000 gift subscriptions. Capell's concluded: "Martha Stewart's total franchise is the publishing success story of the 1990s."
It's a success that Stewart has been negotiating to remove from the corporate control of Time Inc.--a success that is also likely to grow even bigger as Stewart prepares to roll out a daily TV program showcasing her homemaking, gardening and decorating skills.
Also among Capell's Best Performers in Circulation 1996 were Money, Entertainment Weekly, Barron's, Vibe, YM (Young & Modern), Seventeen, Hearst's SmartMoney, the Robb Report (a mag about extravagances for the affluent that sells more than half its circulation of 83,000 at $6.95 a copy) and Bon Appetit.
Afterwords: Nancy LeWinter has been publisher of Marie Claire and Esquire. Julie Lewit has been publisher of Mirabella and Mademoiselle. They are now teaming up for the 500,000-copy launch late next month of Mode, a fashion magazine aimed at the more than 65 million women who wear size 14 or larger. . . .
The Barnes & Noble chain announced this week that it will begin selling books via America Online, offering steeper-than-retail discounts of 30% on hardcovers in stock and 20% on paperbacks. The arrangement will take effect in mid-February, challenging the online bookselling of Amazon.com. . . .
About 10 minutes after the Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl victory, Doubleday announced that team quarterback Brett Favre is writing his autobiography for publication in the fall. . . .
Remember Angela Janklow Harrington? Remember Mouth2Mouth? The former Vanity Fair writer, who founded and edited the short-lived mag for older teens and has since done reports on "Good Morning America," has joined Penguin USA in a new position--senior editor, West Coast. Her mission: bring in celebrity authors. One celebrity is close to home. Her father is Morton L. Janklow, the powerful literary agent. . . .
Angelo Figueroa, the founding editor of Nuevo Mundo, the weekly Spanish-language paper published by the San Jose Mercury News, has been named editor of People en Espan~ol, which People launched in October and will publish four times this year. People also is developing a spinoff for teens, having recently appointed YM Editor Christina Ferrari as editor of the new venture. . . .
Quote of the week: Alan B. Graf, Federal Express' chief financial officer, commenting on the company's plan to price packages according to travel distance, tells the Wall Street Journal: "I'm very comfortable that this move is going to be accretive to earnings."
* Paul D. Colford is a columnist for Newsday. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His column is published Thursdays.