Oprah’s magazine will likely cost twice as much in 2021

Fans of Oprah Winfrey’s O, the Oprah Magazine, will still be able to snag physical copies next year — at a cost.

After announcing that the last monthly print edition will be published in December, Oprah recently clarified that the magazine isn’t going away, it’s just getting smaller.

“There’s been a lot of chatter and a lot of speculation about O, The Magazine, ending,” Oprah said in a video to her fans on Instagram last week. “I want you to know it’s not ending. It’s evolving. Because after 20 years of covers, I think it’s time. And I also think it’s a good thing. None of us were meant to stay the same. We evolve with the times.”

She now plans to publish “at least four special print editions,” instead of monthly issues, she said.

But a newsstand-only title typically means a higher cover price because it is a circulation-supported issue rather than an advertising supported venture. And while Hearst, Oprah’s publishing partner, is still finalizing its plans, sources tell Media Ink that the quarterly issues will likely be sold on newsstands only for cover price of between $10 and $12 — up from its current price of $4.99 an issue.

O’s current paid subscribers —  which numbered 1.8 million as of June 30, according to the Alliance for Audited Media —  are expected to be offered other titles in the Hearst stable to make up for the loss of O, such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Good Housekeeping.

O magazine sold 189,807 newsstand copies in the first half of the year and derived about 8.7 percent of its circulation from 197,916 digital subscribers. Digital is now expected to play a bigger role since most of the uplifting and wellness content it built up in its 20 year run is of the evergreen variety, as valid today as when it was first published.

Oprah is not the only celebrity to go this route. Meredith last year cut its Rachael Ray Everyday magazine to a quarterly newsstand title starting in December 2019 with a $9.99 cover price. Dr. Mehmet Oz saw his magazine joint venture with Hearst, Dr. Oz the Good Life, cut back to a quarterly newsstand title in 2017.

Ad rates are based on circulation so publishers sometimes keep the circulation high in order to command higher ad prices. But even before the pandemic, Hearst was having a hard time keeping circulation up without the boost it would get when Oprah’s top-rated syndicated talk show was on air daily.

Oprah, still a hugely popular figure even without the talk show that ended in May 2011. But without the boost from the daily show, circulation has declined from its peak of over 2.7 million.

She had appeared on every cover since its debut in 2000 but broke with tradition with the September issue, which featured instead an illustration of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was killed when police mistakenly broke down the door to her apartment with an arrest warrant for someone else.

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