Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Time marches on, leaving Teen People behind

Time Inc. is stopping the print edition of Teen People magazine. It is retaining the brand on the web only. This is almost identical to the decision by Hachette Filipacchi's a few months ago to discontinue all but the website presence of Elle Girl. Teen People, which was started in 1998 as a spinoff to People (arguably the most successful magazine in the world), has about 50 employees. It is very much in the mainstream tradition in U.S. publishing, a sort of hybrid of women's service magazines and celebrity titles. A redesigned Teen People was unveiled in September 2003.

According to latest ABC data, the magazine had about 87,000 Canadian circulation, roughly half of whom were paid subscribers. Its total per issue circulation was more than 1.5 million, ranking it about 53rd in the U.S. The magazine's overall revenue, according to industry figures, was in the area of US$30 million. However, according to Publishers Information Bureau figures, total ad pages for the first half of this year fell 14.4 from 2005--from about 353 to 302--while ad revenue fell over 10 percent in the same time period.

Magazine consultant and commentator Samir Husni told Media Daily News that Teen People may have been a victim of its own success. It prompted the launch of dozens of imitators or celebrity titles, many (like In Touch Weekly) of which were cheaper to produce and sold for less. This made the more expensive teen magazine hard to sustain.

Husni said he was skeptical of Time Inc.'s contention that the magazine brand would be as profitable online

"The beauty of the Web is it gives magazine publishers the excuse,
'We're not really killing the thing, we're staying on the Web.' If people could only survive on the Web, don't you think Playboy would have folded its print edition long ago?"

(References are inapt to the decision in May by CanWest Global to discontinue Dose, a daily magazine/street tab for young people (not teens) distributed in cities across Canada. Teen People was paid, apparently popular and, as far as is known, still profitable, while Dose was controlled and a constant revenue struggle.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know. Husni makes an interesting point re Playboy, but their demographic is far different. Teens are the cutting edge of the new digital lifestyle. More and more they want their content online and more and more advertisers are looking for them online. If you were a giant publishing house (like Time) and you wanted to experiment with the web (learn what works, what doesn't, what's profitable, what isn't) so that you could use that knowledge company wide, wouldn't it make sense to use a popular, profitable, teen publication? Just because no one has done it yet, doesn't mean it can't be done.

3:55 pm  

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