Readers: Magazines aren’t that bad off
Though things are changing, the industry is innovating
March 7, 2013
The magazine industry is changing, and it has been for some time.
But the state of the industry is hardly as dire as some reports make it out to be, in the opinion of media buyers and planners.
The majority of them see some real success stories in the way publishers are adapting to the changes sweeping through the media industry, and they are optimistic about the future of magazines, whether in print or some other form.
That’s the finding of a recent Media Life poll in which readers were asked to weigh in on reports that Time Warner was negotiating with Meredith to sell off the bulk of its magazine holdings.
Those talks were indeed underway but yesterday Time Warner announced that it has chosen instead to spin off Time Inc. as a free-standing publicly traded company.
Rumors of the Meredith deal, which surfaced last month, spurred a lot of hand-wringing over the state of the industry as a whole, especially with so many seemingly negative headlines. Ad pages are down, newsstand sales are falling, and some titles are abandoning their print editions altogether.
But to many media people, magazines are still a vital, if changing, medium.
Asked what the rumored Meredith-Time Inc. deal might say about the health of the magazine industry, the largest share of respondents, 30 percent, agreed with this answer:
“It’s not nearly as bad as people are saying. I see some great innovations in digital and some brands that remain very successful.”
The second-largest share, 26 percent, picked this choice: “It’s not great but not awful. There are some publishers that are navigating through this successfully.”
Just 8 percent, the smallest share, said they thought the industry was in dire straits. Indeed, at the other end of the scale, 12 percent deemed it “vital.”
Under the Meredith deal, Time Inc, would have sold all but four of its titles, and they in turn would have been merged with the Meredith titles in a publishing unit managed by Meredith executives.
Media Life readers saw it as a smart deal for Meredith. The publisher would have moved from the country’s No. 2 publisher to the top spot long held by Time Inc.
The largest share of respondents, 38 percent, agreed with this statement: “It is smart on Meredith’s side. It says a lot for how the company has positioned itself and its properties at a time when the rest of the industry is struggling.”
A smaller share, 19 percent, saw it as a good deal for Time Warner. It would have meant its exit from magazine publishing, which it long dominated, yet it would have been left with four titles under the rumored deal–Time, Sports Illustrated, Money and Fortune.
Readers were unsure just what the fate of those titles would have been.
Asked, “Do you think any of the remaining Time Warner titles has a real future in print?,” 54 percent answered yes, and 46 percent answered no.
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