Magazines Hype NY Fashion Week... The Value of 'Interactive Periodicals'...

The drum roll to New York Fashion Week is already beating loudly, and magazines are pulling out all the stops to propel the hype.

TALKING THE TABLET: The good news for magazine publishers: tablet-computer-ready periodicals could be a $3 billion business within the next four years. The bad news for magazine publishers (at least those betting on the iPad and its ilk as a one-stop white knight) is that $1.7 billion of those revenues already exist. A study released Monday by consulting firm Oliver Wyman found that, after accounting for potential cannibalization of print sales, “interactive periodicals” could bring in $1.3 billion in true incremental revenues to the magazine industry by 2014. Next Issue Media — the digital distribution outfit that includes Condé Nast, Hearst Corp., Meredith Corp., News Corp. and Time Inc. — commissioned the study, which polled 1,800 participants on their current and potential media habits and built a model marketplace based on the results. Among other notable findings, the survey showed consumers willing to continue to pay a comparable price for digital subscriptions as they do currently for the print versions at $1.49 an issue, and would be prepared to pay a premium price of about $1.99 an issue for both products bundled together. Researchers also found a favorable environment for new subscription models, such as a flat-fee system similar to Netflix.

Next Issue Media chief executive officer Morgan Guenther praised the study’s researchers Monday, but also said he thought the results underestimated the total size of the opportunity for publishers because it didn’t account for other potential revenue boosters, such as premium advertising and single-copy digital sales (which would presumably still come at an up-charge like their dead-tree forebearers). “Correctly done, the opportunity to really drive incremental revenues and grow the size of the pie…there’s huge opportunity here,” Guenther told WWD. As for when readers will be able to start contributing directly to the Next Issue partners’ coffers through its digital newsstand, Guenther would only say the venture is in “stay tuned” mode in terms of a launch date. He did perhaps provide some hint of a timetable in his predictions for the e-reader market in the coming months. “I think there will be a critical mass of devices in the U.S. by mid-next year,” he said. “We know the category is going to grow rapidly and going to grow explosively, especially as price points come down.” — Matthew Lynch

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