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April 8, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:11am

America’s top 50 magazines: Time and TV Guide among best performing titles in second half of 2021

By William Turvill

America’s top 50 most popular magazines lost a combined circulation of nearly 1m in the second half of 2021, according to Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) figures analysed by Press Gazette.

The two largest magazines in the United States are both published by the American Association of Retired People (AARP) and distributed to paying members. The AARP’s Magazine (circulation, 22,890,227) and Bulletin (22,566,080) both grew their circulations slightly in the second half of 2021.

The next two largest titles – Better Homes And Gardens and People – both also retained steady circulations thanks to strong digital performances, especially through Apple’s premium aggregation service, News+.

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Following a 2021 merger between Dotdash and Meredith’s magazine division, 15 of America’s top 50 periodicals now share the same publisher. Hearst owns eight of the top 50, and Conde Nast publishes six of them.

Four of Hearst’s titles – Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Woman’s Day and Good Housekeeping — experienced the worst circulation declines in the second half of 2021, the AAM figures show.

TV Guide Magazine, members magazine Texas Co-Op Power and Time – which has grown strongly on Apple News+ – were the best performing titles in terms of period-on-period growth.

The first table shows the top 50 magazines in the US, ranked by average paid-for circulations in the second half of 2021. Below, in our second table, we break down circulations by print subscriptions, digital subscriptions and single issue sales.

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The total circulation figures include “verified” copies that are bought by businesses, like hotels and airlines, and made freely available to customers. They exclude free copy circulations. Circulations defined as non-paid by the AAM have been excluded from our totals.

The second table illustrates that print remains an important medium for America’s magazine brands. Only Us Weekly and Men’s Journal report having larger circulations in digital than in print.

Print subscriptions, specifically, are the biggest source of sales for publishers in general. Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Parents and People have the largest single-copy sale circulations.

Photo credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

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