IBT Media is celebrating the first anniversary of its Newsweek ownership with some good news.
The publisher, which closed on a sale of the title last October for an undisclosed sum, told staff this week that it plans to reveal Newsweek is now profitable, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Capital.
Taken at face value, the development marks the first time Newsweek is in the black in years. The magazine, saddled with industry-wide print losses, growing competition on the web and the waning relevance of the newsweekly format, was reportedly losing close to $30 million annually when The Washington Post Co. put it up for sale in 2010. The red ink continued to flow during Newsweek's joint venture with The Daily Beast under the steward ship of Barry Diller's IAC, so much so that the company killed the print edition before putting Newsweek back on the block as a digital title.
IBT Media, which also owns The International Business Times and numerous other online publications, resurrected the print edition of Newsweek in March, albeit in a way that seemed dwarflike compared to the size at which the magazine operated for much of its 81-year history.
Of course it's this much smaller scale that gave Newsweek a fighting chance of making money again with a "boutique" business model primarily rooted in circulation dollars as opposed to advertising.
The current newsroom headcount is around 50, down from several hundred during the glory days. And IBT had said it was looking to net about 200,000 Newsweek subscribers internationally within the first year of the new print edition, which relies on premium newsstand and subscribtion salesâ€”$7.99 for a single issue or $99.99 for one year. Peak circulation was more than 3 million.
On the web side, newsweek.com is pulling in more than 2 million unique monthly visitors, up from a paltry 211,000 one year ago, according to the analytics firm comScore.
IBT has not disclosed any revenue or subscriber numbers, but in an August interview, Newsweek editor-in-chief Jim Impoco told Capital "they've been growing steadily ...It's been encouraging." (Newsweek is not currently audited by industry groups.)
Spokespeople for IBT did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
UPDATE: Here's the official release, which was provided shortly after this article was first published. It states that "Newsweekâ€™s revenue has increased by 400% in the last year," with advertising accounting for a third of the total:
NEW YORK â€“ October 8, 2014 â€“ Newsweek today announced that September marked a return to profitabilty for the iconic magazine brand under its current ownership at IBT Media.
â€œOur business plan to support Newsweekâ€™s quality journalism is working. Clearly there is an appetite for premium content,â€ said Etienne Uzac, co-founder and CEO of IBT Media. â€œIn addition to bringing this iconic brand back to print, weâ€™ve expanded advertising, significantly increased subscriptions and grown the online audience tremendously.â€
Newsweekâ€™s tradition of journalism excellence continues under the leadership of Editor-in-Chief Jim Impoco. He and his team have distinguished the magazine in a crowded news space with a series of high impact stories on subjects ranging from the unmasking of an international celebrity activist to the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. Additionally, Impoco has expanded the editorial team to 50 staffers in New York and London to serve content to the print and digital platforms.
Newsweekâ€™s revenue has increased by 400% in the last year, driven by a three-pronged revenue strategy of subscriptions, advertising and licensed content. Global traffic to Newsweek.com has increased immensely between October 2013 and September 2014, from less than one million to nearly six million unique visitors a month. Newsweek will enhance readersâ€™ digital experience with new iOS apps this quarter.
The advertising business now accounts for about a third of Newsweekâ€™s overall revenue, which is a 100- fold increase in the last year. Advertising partners â€“ spanning industries from luxury and travel to financial and tech â€“ are drawn to Newsweekâ€™s affluent and influential audience; the average print household income is in excess of $100,000.
IBT Media successfully re-launched print editions in the United States and Europe in March, and publishes six international versions through licensees. It is continuing to explore additional international editions.