BREAKING NEWS: the $14 million People paid for the family pix of the latest batch of Brangelinaspawn was an unconscionable waste of money! Or so the bloghaterati would have you believe. "Sources" are telling a site called CoverAwards that the magazine sold a "disappointing" 2.5 million copies on newsstands, which amounts to just about $6 million in revenue, meaning the American public must have turned violently against Brangelina's nefarious scheme to strip mine their children's cuteness to enrich themselves and the various third world relief efforts to which they donate money. But we're not buying it! Because as the surprising success of NBC's wild $894 million dollar bid for the Olympics is teaching us, ours is a nation that has been longing for shared media experiences. Enough with the market segmentation and experience customization; bring us beach volleyball, bring us a classy speech emphasizing our role in the global economy, bring us a photogenic nine-person megafamily with no birth defects and decent hair, BRING US JOHN EDWARDS' CASTRATED…um…

1. Content repurposers and echo chambers be damned, exclusive content actually does pay off over the long term! You think I like scanning this shit? Hell no. But People, for all this "intellectual property copyright" babble, digs it. Because even though I am not really driving much traffic to their site, I am reminding you that People exists, exists with tons of cash to throw around on the right baby pictures. Same goes for the Olympics: more people than ever are watching them online, which has actually been good for television ratings, which are better than we've they held the Olympics in our timezone.

2. Not everything is the Super Bowl. There was no feasible scenario in which People, with its average weekly circulation of 3.8 million circulation, could have earned back its $14 million in newsstand sales — not even close. But People has been on a little tear lately, having grown 1.72% in the first half of the year, according to numbers out today from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, including s a 5.3% increase in higher-margin newsstand sales. The thing is, People also makes money off its subscribers, a model that allows them to do readers services and favors and devote extra funds to National Historic Events here and there without worrying about the immediate payoff, a model I favor since it tends to approach readers as readers and not just receptors for marketing messages whose worth to the magazine is directly proportional to their ability to be sucked in by cover lines like "Erotic Sex!" From the NBC standpoint, the thousands of hours of Olympics coverage is too massive a project and too important a contribution to cheapen with immediate cost-benefit analysis. Which is to say, yeah, there were cuter pictures they could have used for the cover, but this was a little gift to the people who read People.

3. America wants to feel like a responsible global citizen again. Thanks to China, we totally can! I mean, sure, there are 10,000 families in this country worth more than a hundred million dollars, many of whom would have never accumulated such wealth without China, and I personally think that should be illegal, but as long as we are going to be American wouldn't you rather we tried to, you know, direct those appropriations towards the types of people attractive enough to fund a whole shadow of economy of photographers who keep tabs on them? Brangelina are opening a tuberculosis clinic in Africa; they're reading the New Yorker.

4. The best bets are on stories where anything can happen. Take Pax's hair: a year ago, who of you thought the shy Vietnamese kid would be the cool one? None of you, I actually bothered to run a poll on this one. Anyway, ditto the 33-year-old gymnast and South Korea making it to the 2002 World Cup finals, and a whole bunch of other nationalism-stoking stuff I could reference if I had been actually watching this thing with the other 90% of my countrymen.

5. In the immortal words of Brad Pitt upon being posed the question "When it comes to discipline, how often do you sound like your parents?" on page 70. "Using the phrase 'Because I said so' is extremely satisfying." Also as a philosophy of governance, I've heard! Zai Jian folks.

NBC Pulls Super Bowl-Like Ratings [SF Gate]
Cover Awards
NBC Winning Big In The Games