It’s not your grandmother’s TV Guide. Gone is the red logo shaped like an old-school TV set. Also gone is the magazine’s original reason for existing – serving as a local channel guide in the pre-cable days.
So how is it that TV Guide – now in the hands of Michigan-based NTVB Media – still exists?
“In 2018, TV Guide is a profitable print magazine of some scale, nowhere near its glory days when circulation reached 17 million, but with growing traction in ad sales; strong newsstand sales; and a solid subscription story,” writes Tony Silber in Forbes.com.
“By rights, there ought to be a strong print-media brand covering TV right now,” Silber explains. “Even in an era of social media and internet-based communications, TV possesses an unsurpassed cultural power. That never really changed, and this television era is particularly notable.”
Television viewing has gotten to be ridiculously complicated, with consumers cutting cable in droves and signing up for subscription, pay-per-view and dish services. The old days of “Must See TV” have been replaced with binge-watching and play on demand. And that’s exactly why TV Guide is so valuable right now.
“It’s impossible to keep up with it all without some guidance, and that’s where TV Guide is working to reestablish its old niche,” Silber continues.
They’re doing a pretty good job at it, too, even though its pre-cable glory days aren’t ever likely to return.
Silber explains how the brand, which was deeply in debt, trimmed excess circulation and weighty headcount and began to turn things around under new CEO Andy DeAngelis. Thanks to a renewed focus on subscription marketing, they are seeing their strongest direct mail results in four years, according to Tony Frost, SVP of Operations.
This focus on subscriptions, along with strategic renewal marketing and holiday gifting campaigns, is turning the company back around, with increasing ad revenue and also a bump in newsstand sales.
And because they still know their audience, your grandmother would still recognize it.
“TV Guide still runs the iconic listings grids, even in an era of streaming media, because both Roush and Editor in Chief Michael Fell say many viewers still enjoy linear TV viewing—that is, watching shows on their official dates and times,” explains Silber.
With streaming television only growing, the magazine now includes original content covering Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and the rest.
“We see streaming as the next evolution of TV,” DeAngelis said to Silber. “We’re covering it big. We see Netflix advertising in the magazine, which they had never done. One of Netflix’s goals is to grow their Boomer base, and that’s right in our wheelhouse.”
It’s a beautiful example of two industries in disruption – television and print – who have found the way forward to new revenue streams and profitability by ignoring the “what we used to do” and embracing change. And from here, it looks like it’s dialed in pretty well.