Headlines: Ninth Art Gone, TV Guide on DVD

I’m sorry to see Ninth Art go (link now squatted); they’ve announced that their last update will by June 19. Running a webzine for over five years is a lot of work, and they launched in a different time, before the world changed in 2001. Honestly, I quit reading them regularly when their RSS feed stopped working for me over a year ago, but they had some interesting things to say, and Paul O’Brien’s column was always thought-provoking.

Publishing companies need to go after new readers to grow sales and combat attrition of existing readers. It’s understandable that they’d want to do stunts to attract attention, but it always annoys me when they create promotions that disadvantage the existing subscriber, because that’s a counter-incentive to loyalty. The latest is TV Guide, who’s including a DVD of promo clips with newsstand copies only of their next issue. Apparently, it would just cost too much to reward the people who’ve signed up in advance with a magazine subscription. The magazine’s also been appearing locally with coupons that reduce the $2 cover price to 50 cents. Does that mean the venerable publication is increasingly more desperate for readers?


9 Responses to “Headlines: Ninth Art Gone, TV Guide on DVD”

  1. Smilodon Says:

    I’ve been dubious of TV Guide’s format change since it was announced. That it went hand in hand with a decrease in usefullness (the dumping of local listings, which, lets be fair, can be gotten online now) only gave me more doubts about its viability.

  2. Nat Gertler Says:

    TV Guide has been reader-hungry for a fair while now. Over the course of a couple decades, it slid from sales of 20 million down to 9 million, with the big dip coming in the late 1990s. As the product was getting ever more complex (hundreds of TV channels and more targeted localities created by local cable operators), they were also met with outside and more convenient competition – the cable guides (and DVR guides) which are always at hand and are updated closer to air time than is possible with a weekly print source. They did a major redesign last year, making it look a lot more People-y, and did a number of “discount” issues as part of that relaunch.

    I suspect the real reason for not including the DVDs with subscriptions may not be as a reward for newsstand buying nor to save production cost on the disc – it may be mailing costs. Looking at the USPS definition of periodical which requires it to be on printed sheets, it’s not clear to me that something with an enclosed DVD would qualify. A change in mailing class could have a huge effect on costs.

  3. Jer Says:

    Nat –

    I’ve gotten enclosed DVDs with computer magazine subscriptions, and its never affected my subscription costs (and given the magazines, I doubt that they’d eat the overhead if it was more than a few cents). I suspect that this is more along the lines of TV Guide just not thinking about what they’re doing – again.

  4. Joshua Macy Says:

    Yes, TV Guide is desperate. They’re trying to find some way of staying in business. It was losing tens of millions of dollars a year in its old format.

  5. Paul O'Brien Says:

    Very nice of you to say so, Johanna. Er, what do you mean by the world changing in 2001? I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. (Well, nothing with obvious relevance to comics websites, at least.)

  6. Johanna Says:

    I was going bigger picture, Paul — 9/11, the US economy tanking as a result (and personally throwing me out of work for a year), lots of businesses closing (at least locally), that whole bad-idea war… Pre-2001 seems like a lot more than five years ago.

    Or was that that dry British humour that we Americans don’t get?

  7. Paul O'Brien Says:

    No, I just assumed you were thinking of something about comics or the web, that’s all!

  8. stanicus Says:

    any idea why ninth art is going away?

  9. Johanna Says:

    No idea, but if I had to guess, I’d say probably a combination of staff availability and/or fatigue. They’ve had an awfully long run for a webzine.

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