Time Warner Magazine Arm in Trouble

While Time Warner is DC Comics’ parent company, DC is structurally part of Warner Bros. That means this doesn’t directly affect them, but it’s not good news.

According to the NY Times,

Time Inc. announced that it was putting 18 of its 50 magazines in the United States up for sale. Given the somewhat marginal publications involved — niche magazines like Popular Science, Yachting, Transworld Skateboarding — it is not as if the company is burning heirloom furniture to stay warm. But the garage sale of unwanted odds and ends signals that the world’s largest magazine publisher — the home of Olympian titles like Time, People and Life — is back on its heels. …

Time Warner stock is stuck, and $20 billion in buybacks, along with the sales of its music and book divisions, have done nothing to dislodge it.

What’s to blame? Surprisingly, a lack of appeal to women, according to the writer:

The company has monumental assets but a bit of gender dysphoria. Time Inc. made its bones on magazines built by and for men, but these days the female-skewing publications like People, Real Simple, and InStyle are the ones paying the bills. Sports Illustrated and Fortune had a terrible 2005, down 17 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in advertising pages from a weak 2004. Time magazine got clobbered as well in 2005, off 12.2 percent.

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7 Responses to “Time Warner Magazine Arm in Trouble”

  1. Steven Says:

    Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but it seems that the problem is a lack of appeal to MEN. They have no trouble selling the “female skewing magazines” like InStyle, but are hemorraging male readers to the internet and cable (much like network television).

    Which, if/when the trend comes to comics, would mean DC really IS in trouble, because they don’t have a fleet of female skewing titles to fall back on when the men give up the paper for the pixels.

  2. Johanna Says:

    They built their empire on magazines skewing to men, but (like DC and Marvel), they were too slow to realize that money could also be made from publications aimed at women, so their slate in that area is weak, and a male audience downturn has shaken them badly. At least, that’s the way I read it. Which means we’re pretty closing to agreeing.

  3. Barry Says:

    I think the article oversimplifies the issues Time Inc is facing by breaking it down to a gender-related issue. While it’s true that the “women’s mags” are doing far better then the so-called “mens mags”, there are those that theoretically appeal to women as well as men, such as the revamped Life, Time and Parenting (which is being sold off) that are equally hurting. And when it comes to skewing to a younger male and female audience, both Office Pirates website (geared towards a young, male audience) and the print version of Teen People, (geared towards teenage girls) recently folded, though the latter still exists as a dot com.

    One of the top priorities of the company is to create content that connects with their audience and deliver it in a variety of formats, whether it be print, web, mobile or TV. Whether that succeeds in the long run remains to be seen. Considering that my paycheck (and that of several thousand coworkers) depends on that success, I’m hoping it does.

  4. Tim Says:

    Well, gender dysphoria might be a part of Time Inc’s problem — but a very small one. It’d be very short-sighted to think that this is why Time Inc is bleeding money and readers.

    EVERYONE is losing money and readers. The entire magazine market has been down the past year and half. And with Time Inc holding the majority of the cards, a lot of their titles are going to be down.

    Not that you are, but you can’t chalk it all up to men’s/women’s issues — especially since Time Inc folded the female-centric Teen People earlier this year.

    You have to consider the fact that Time Inc is still hurting from the AOL deal. Besides axing Teen People, they’ve also laid off nearly 200 people this year, if my memory serves. And they’re still in the hole billions of dollars.

  5. Johanna Says:

    The gender thing is just one reason contributing to the problem, true. I’d gathered that TW was trying to push cross-platform content by the number of plugs for the website that have recently been appearing in Entertainment Weekly (their only magazine I read regularly). But if the web satisfied me, I wouldn’t need the magazine, so all they’re doing is annoying me by trying to push me elsewhere.

  6. Lyle Says:

    IMO, TW screwed up an opportunity to transition a significant chunk of their readership to the web when, in trying to market AOL’s original content (after previously transitioning it all thier original content to the web), made most of their magazines’ online content exclusive to subscribers to AOL or the magazine. I remember I used to visit Cooking Light’s website frequently (often to look up recipes from issues I had at home in order to compose a shopping list for that night) and eventually the unreliable password system got me to give up (making me less likely to see teasers for the magazine).

    That said, I kinda like EW’s PopWatch blog, as it’s linked to things I’ve found interesting.

  7. RJ Says:

    Time is in trouble because lots of people (like me) cancelled their subscriptions — disgusted with Time’s liberal bias!

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