Royal milestones are proven cash cows for celebrity weeklies: Between newsstand sales, special issues and features, the magazine industry raked in an estimated $31 million from the Royal Wedding in 2011. Now, the celebrity tabloids and their digital counterparts are getting ready to reap the benefits of the royal union with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge's first baby.
While Buckingham Palace has avoided releasing an official due date, People magazine managing editor Larry Hackett said Monday that he had it on good authority that today was the day. (Whether the baby will comply remains to be seen.) The title has long had an affinity for the Royal Family: Since it first featured Prince Charles on its cover in 1974, five of the magazine’s best-selling covers ever have featured British royals (Prince William’s birth in 1982 sold 2.6 million copies on the newsstands, while the prince’s wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011 sold 2.1 million). People has already dedicated four separate covers to Kate’s pregnancy since it was announced in late 2012.
People is planning “blowout coverage” of the birth, in print and on People.com, where there is already a dedicated Royals channel and Royal Baby Timeline. (There’s also a “Special Collector’s Book” slated for release in August; news may be broken online these days, but moments that need savoring still call for commemorative publications.) A full-time London bureau chief and several freelancers are on the ground in the U.K. preparing to get the story.
Over at Bauer, In Touch and Life & Style magazines have a team of reporters and an editor in London dedicated to the Royal Baby’s arrival. The titles have already had newsstand success with pregnancy coverage—a recent Life & Style cover touting “Kate Middleton's Delivery Drama” was its best-selling to date, according to a rep—and Dan Wakeford, editor-in-chief of In Touch and Life & Style, said that he expects the birth itself to be even bigger news than the Royal Wedding for weeklies.
Us Weekly, which was closing its upcoming issue Monday, managed to secure one of 10 dedicated press spots outside of the private wing of St. Mary's Hospital in London where the baby will be born, said executive editor Albert Lee. Us already released a special newsstand-only issue, “Raising a Royal Baby,” last month, and plans to release a second one after the baby is born. “A lot of readers will be served by going online” for immediate baby news, said Lee, “but some will also want to pick up a collector’s issue to commemorate the event.”
Online, Yahoo’s OMG is working with editorial staff at its U.K. counterpart to cover the news. Its women's site Yahoo Shine has had a team of editors on call around the clock since last week waiting to populate its Royal Baby Buzz microsite. After the big day, expect weeks’ worth of photo galleries, videos and follow-up stories dissecting every detail of the birth. (And, of course, what Kate was wearing.)