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Teen mag Seventeen on circulation diet

Numbers to drop to 2.1 mil from 2.35 mil

Following the trimming-down trend in the swelling teen magazine niche, Seventeen is cutting its circulation base. Earlier this month, Time Inc.’s Teen People similarly slashed its circulation, following on the heels of Gruner and Jahr’s YM.

As of January 2004, Seventeen, long the leader in the teen market but suffering on the newsstands (sales were down 24% for the last six months of 2002 compared with a year earlier), will drop its rate base circulation to 2.1 million from 2.35.

The decision was made by Hearst prexy Cathleen Black, who bought the ailing title from Primedia for $180 million in late May, making it a sibling to Hearst’s CosmoGirl.

CosmoGirl editor in chief Atoosa Rubenstein is the new topper at Seventeen, the company also announced Wednesday. Jayne Jamison joins as the mag’s VP and publisher. Those positions were previously held by former Primedia staffers who transferred in the move.

Category swelling

Cosmo’s younger sister has been the most successful teen title in recent months, as the category has expanded with the launches of Conde Nast’s Teen Vogue and Hachette Filipacchi’s Elle Girl.

While Rubenstein will be charged with infusing Seventeen with some of CosmoGirl’s energy — ad pages were up 18% through August, compared to the same period last year, and its rate base was raised from 1 million to 1.25 million in January — she will also have to keep the mags’ identities distinct.

“My mission is to bring that incredible brand back to its roots,” Rubenstein said of her new job. “It’s not about reinventing the wheel, but to tap into that rich heritage that is wildly different from that of CosmoGirl.”

Seventeen was founded by broadcast pioneer Walter Annenberg in 1944.

Rubenstein called CosmoGirl the “relationship bible.” Seventeen, she said, was the “style bible.”

Too many teen mags

The surfeit of teen mags has had a dampening effect on numbers. After a severe growth spurt, Teen People’s ad pages were flat for the first eight months of 2003 compared to the same period last year, according to Steve Cohn, editor of the Media Industry Newsletter. Earlier this year a new editor was brought in to re-charge the mag’s slowing circulation numbers.

Ad pages were down by almost 12% at Seventeen through August.

“It’s a crowded market, things went too fast too furiously,” Cohn said. “There are so many magazines reaching this audience that 10 years ago was undermarketed. Then again, they keep saying girls have a lot of buying power.”

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