MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From NPR News, this is DAY TO DAY.

Britney Spears is big business when she beats a car with an umbrella or she's carried away in an ambulance. TV ratings shoot up, magazine sales surge, and Web traffic spikes.

MARKETPLACE's Bob Moon is here now for the business perspective on Britney.

And Bob, how much money is she generating?

BOB MOON: Well, the Associated Press has taken note of this phenomenon in a story that they've headlined An Economy Grows Around Britney Spears. And if you've ever stopped to wonder why it is that crowds of photographers swarm around her, consider what the founder of the paparazzi agency X-17 says an exclusive shot of her can sell for: about $10,000 here in the U.S. And the residual fees on a really exclusive image can push the value of a single photograph to well past $100,000.

(Soundbite of song, "Oops, I Did It Again")

Ms. BRITNEY SPEARS (Singer): (Singing) Oops, I did it again.

(Soundbite of cash register)

MOON: Uh-huh. And then you've got the TV ratings for all those "Entertainment Tonight," "Showbiz Today," "Access Hollywood," TMZ kind of shows. Did I miss anyone there? Oh yeah, I did.

The executive producer of "Inside Edition" says all those programs enjoyed a major ratings spike when Spears was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance a couple of weeks back. And he says it happens every time with her.

(Soundbite of song, "Oops, I Did It Again")

Ms. SPEARS: (Singing) Hit me baby one more time.

(Soundbite of cash register)

MOON: That's why we're seeing and hearing so much about Britney Spears. This is big, big business.

BRAND: It is. Wow, it really sounds like it. So how much money do these tabloids and other media outlets get from all this? How many more magazines with the picture of Britney on the cover are they selling?

MOON: Well, one of the newcomers in the gossip magazine business is OK! magazine. And the U.S. editor for that publication says they have a 10-person team here in L.A. devoted to Britney Spears coverage. And that magazine alone has put her picture on the cover 54 times in the 103 issues published in the past couple of years.

The AP notes that any time a magazine can boost circulation beyond its normal levels, the extra is just about pure profit. And overall, newsstand sales were up around 1 percent higher to around $2.4 billion in the first half of last year.

BRAND: Okay. So it sounds like a lot of people are profiting off her. The word vulture comes to mind. And you know, this is a woman who seems quite troubled, really - quite troubled mentally. And I'm just wondering, is she getting anything out of all this?

MOON: Well, her income seems to be pretty stable, according to some court papers released in November. Her earnings are roughly $737,000 a month - mostly from ongoing music sales. "Blackout," her first studio album in four years, hit number one on the charts last fall. The single from that, "Gimme More," topped out at number three on the Billboard 100. So she doesn't seem to be hurting right now.

BRAND: Yeah. Well, okay, so beside the gossip magazines and us now, any other traditional media outlets following this story?

MOON: Yeah, the AP apparently sent an internal memo out, according to the Web site Gawker that says for the foreseeable future everything involving Britney is a big deal.

BRAND: Thank you, Bob. I don't know quite what to say. But thank you. I think we've covered it.

Bob Moon of public radio's daily business show MARKETPLACE.

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