How’s the iconic TV Guide magazine doing these days, now that just about everything we know about television has changed? According to Caysey Welton in Folio:, it’s doing just fine, thanks.
“TV Guide’s backstory is a long (and sometimes cringe-worthy) one, but what’s important to know is that the magazine was once distributed to nearly 20 million American households and at one time was valued at more than $3 billion dollars,” Welton explains. As digital cable and internet disrupted their primary focus, they did try to adapt.
Yet Welton notes that those changes in hindsight “were reactionary and ill-conceived and led to crippling debts. Since 1988, the brand has changed ownership a handful of times, and the magazine and its digital assets were split, with the digital business going to CBS Interactive.”
“But TV Guide the magazine is still here,” he continues. “And not only has it survived, its new debt-free owner NTVB Media has transformed it into a money maker that’s increased its EBITDA by $4 million dollars since its 2015 acquisition.”
How did they do it? Welton believes the answer lies in their new ownership, NTVB Media, which started as a printing company 35 years ago, producing those TV listing books in the local newspapers. That business took a major hit during the recession, so the owners took a big risk and launched a magazine called TV Weekly. They’ve parlayed that into other titles as “television” expanded its definition, launching OnDish, View! Magazine, Channel Guide Magazine, and the TV Insider website.
This positioned them beautifully to take on the assets of TV Guide – but CEO Andy DeAngelis knew they needed a big change.
“When the investment bankers came to us my comment was ‘are you kidding?’” DeAngelis quips. “The magazine was trying to be like People, but there was already a People. It was trying to be a general interest magazine and we didn’t see that as the way forward. There needed to be a sea change.”
“It’s all old school but I wanted to refocus our efforts on what our readers were telling us. They want more service,” he explains. “The volume of TV and when you get to watch it has changed and we are uniquely qualified to guide people through that. So it’s my job to partner with the readers to share in that excitement and tell them what’s worth watching.”
It makes perfect sense. As television gets more complicated, with more choices, channels and subscription options than ever, we need help sorting it all out. And print is a perfect place to do that, in a way that’s familiar – yet at the same time completely up to date.
And with close to 11 million readers, the magazine is a good value for advertisers.
“While the market is challenged and moves more to digital, there is still enough business out there for us to grow and that’s our goal. It’s going to take a little time, but I think we’re making a lot of headway.”
It’s an interesting case of modern technology meets nostalgia, and we’re glad to see it doing so well.