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Periodical publishing, 2017

Released: 2019-01-25

The periodical publishing industry reported $1.3 billion in total operating revenue in 2017, down $284.0 million from 2015.

Shrinking advertising revenue (-$217.7 million) was the main source of the decline. Competition from alternatives to advertisements in printed periodicals was a contributing factor. Printed products accounted for 82.2% of advertising revenue in 2017.

Circulation revenue (-$32.2 million) was also down in 2017. Printed periodical products were the main source of circulation revenue (90.1%). The share of periodical print circulation from paid subscriptions decreased from 33.2% in 2015 to 23.2% in 2017. Conversely, other free, complimentary or promotional copies rose from 36.2% to 49.6%.

Total operating expenses ($1.2 billion) decreased more slowly than revenue, lowering the industry profit margin from 12.8% in 2015 to 10.3% in 2017.

Periodical publishers published the majority of titles in both digital and print formats (73.1%) or in digital-only format (4.7%).

  Note to readers

Starting with the 2017 release, data for periodical publishers were collected and published based on the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). With this change, NAICS 511120 Periodical publishers now covers both print and online publishers. Previously, online-only publishers belonged to NAICS 519130 Internet broadcasting and web search portals. Since many publishers already used both online and print mediums, this change had minimal impact on the comparability of 2015 and 2017 estimates.

The survey of periodical publishers is conducted every two years.

Data for 2015 have been revised.

Data on expenses for editorial content and for digital infrastructure for 2017 are available upon request.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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