Magforum has a useful round up of some of the new entrants in the weekly news segment. Tony Quinn reckons that the Economist will fight off the various new challengers to its crown, as the.... pre-eminent London/International business, current affairs weekly, newspaper/magazine. In fact, it is not easy to define exactly what the Economist's slot is, but it does whatever it quintessentially does very well. One million+ copies a week sold. Most of them on subscription.
But the Economist is not (yet) as big as the biggest US titles (Time, Newsweek, and it may be level pegging with Business Week though it seems to be growing faster and may well be more profitable then any of them); and, especially in the US market, The Week has made spectacular advances in the last four years. One can see why magazine founders/strategists at the BBC, News International and the Guardian may be eyeing the US market carefully in the view of The Week's powerful performance.
Two things struck me from the Magforum analysis:
- One should not forget that other languages have spectacularly successful titles in this slot. Stern gets a circulation of 1 million every week.
- None of the new launch challengers to the throne of the Economist (five current/imminent launches are mentioned) has, so far, come out at launch with an effective digital edition strategy. Why on earth not? Having a good web site is not good enough, though very necessary, when digital editions can be given to all new subscribers, and can be used for low-cost promotion to all potential new subscribers? Given the costs and distribution obstacles to launching a primarily print product, this oversight is unforgivable. This is a slot (whatever it quintessentially is) in which the digital edition has a strong role to play. Time-challenged, technologically savvy, international and mobile, these readers are digital consumers. And the fact/opinion that the Economist does not do an adequate job with its own repurposed HTML version is no excuse!