Wednesday, September 13, 2006


More new US tv shows premiere or available online as reported here and here at MediaPost and here at Variety and over at USA Today. And then this...

Big Publishers Shed Media Assets

Two of America's most powerful publishing companies Tuesday announced plans to shed major assets to better position their core offering for the future. But the divestiture strategies revealed by The New York Times Co. and Time Inc. are pursuing markedly different paths. The Times Co. said it was getting out of the broadcast business, while Time Inc. said it would pare its consumer magazine portfolio by 18 publications, including some classic print titles such as Popular Science, Field & Stream and Outdoor Life, as well as its Parenting Group, while the Times Co. will divest its entire broadcast TV operation, including nine network affiliated local stations in order to focus on its newspaper and digital operations.

The Times Co. owns a duopoly in Oklahoma City; four CBS affiliates, located in Memphis and Norfolk, Va.; and two each affiliated with ABC and NBC. The company said it expects the station group to post $150 million in revenue this year. Last year, it accounted for 4 percent of company revenues.

The local station business is no longer the cash cow it once was. Audiences are fragmenting and advertisers are consolidating into national marketers. Stations have tried to bolster their Web operations and have demonstrated growth--but by and large, they still trail the local newspapers in the local-market digital sphere.

At Time Inc., Chairman-CEO Anne Moore tried to spin the spin-off properties as "good performers" on the auction block.

According to the latest FAS-FAX from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), Popular Science experienced a 10.2 percent drop in subscriptions in the first six months of 2006 compared to the same period of 2005, with overall circulation sinking 8 percent. Field & Stream fared somewhat better, with overall circulation holding steady, but newsstand sales saw a 7.9 percent drop in the same report. Outdoor Life turned in a similar performance, with subscriptions basically even and newsstand sales down 10.6 percent. And Parenting did worst of all, with a 6.1 percent drop in subscriptions and a 25.8 percent drop in newsstand sales.

Samir Husni, a professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi also known as "Mr. Magazine," summed up the sale: "It's massive. They're getting rid of some very big titles, including Parenting, which has been with them a long time. And if you are looking for specific information about sports equipment or rates, for example, you can just Google it." Small magazines will continue to proliferate on a "micro-scale" for very specialized audiences, Husni predicted, but they'll never again attract the attention of companies like Time Inc.

I'm really becoming interested in what the Canadian networks take or response to all this is? No, really...I am.


Sal said...

the whole north American TV thing puzzled me enormously when I was first visiting Canada (Montreal to be precise). As a Brit, I'd never seen so much TV before, and also never seen so much dross. Seemed like you had to filter out huge quantities of crap to get to the gems, but once you got there, boy were they gems!

Good Dog said...

I can understand people wanting to see a show before everyone else so they can slap that smug look across their faces.

I can understand wanting to watch an episode without the damn commercial breaks breaking up the narrative.

But will the number of downloads take into account the possible drop in ratings from folk who "have seen it already"? How do the companies buying ad space feel about this, with potentially less faces to push their product into when the shows get their network premieres?

With magazines having their own websites, I can understand a drop in sales causing certain publications to be withdrawn.

But wouldn't it be better to get rid of the wide range of celebrity-fixated tat?

I mean how much more do people want to know about the ongoing shenanigans of Tom & Katie, Brad & Angelina, Paris Talentless or Lindsay Lohan... (Although judging from some websites/blogs, there's certainly nothing left of Lohan to see, unless we get an internal).

Personally, I've cut down on the number of magazines I used to buy, skimming though their websites instead.

The same with newspapers. During the week I only buy a paper if I'm out, away from the desk, and having to commute.

Here in the UK, with the summer silly season over, the broadsheets and tabloids are back with the free offers to lure buyers.

With The Times on Saturday, I got a DVD of Belleville Rendez-Vous in a little cardboard sleeve. The Sunday Times had a 10-track CD of Jimi Hendrix performing live at London's Royal Albert Hall. Oh, and a price hike.

In fact, of all the Sunday papers, only one didn"t have a free CD or DVD.

wcdixon said...

Thats the great unknown...who and how to pay for these shows when ratings and advert dollars plunge. At least you have the appearance of a self sustaining and indigenous industry over there (even if US shows still do well).

Problem for Canada is it is so dependent on simulcasting US shows as their own and not growing at least small indiginous successes that theres a concern if US shows start taking a different route for getting their shows out there (streaming/downloads), Canada won't have much of anything.

Yes, Lohan has managed to leave little to the imagination already, poor thing. Some of her 'handlers' should explain to her a little bit about the art of a career arc and 'having somewhere to go' life-wise.

Yes I barely buy a mag anymore, except for Q magazine - still like to have that one kicking around the bathroom each month.

Diane Kristine said...

I think the theory is that people watching online are still a tiny proportion of the overall audience, and they will tell two friends, who will tell two friends, about this great show they saw. And advertisers and networks have been frantic since TiVo to recoup lost ad dollars (not to mention losing audiences to other forms of entertainment like video games and the Internet). They'd been trying to find ways to integrate products into stories and make money through online tie-ins even before streaming episodes online became so prevalent. It doesn't matter if you're watching online, ad-free, if Dr. House picks up his iPod and Nintendo GameBoy while insulting his minions (bad example 'cause that show's not likely to be online for a while, but still.)

Good Dog said...

Actually, thinking about it, Sky over here put money into the first season of Battlestar Galactica. Whether it was part of the deal or they simply won the coin toss, the show premiered in the UK in October/November, two months before the US debut.

Obviously it became ripe for downloading, and I think I'm right in saying that at the time there was some concern the audience wouldn't want to catch it again of Sci Fi Channel, thereby skewing the numbers. As it turned out, it wasn't the case.