Overhaul planned for TV Guide in push for readers
By Paul Thomasch
NEW YORK (Reuters) – TV Guide, in a major shift to win over
readers and advertisers, will be overhauled as a full-sized
magazine with more celebrity features and fewer program
listings, its publisher said on Tuesday.
Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. will launch the new TV
Guide Oct. 17, abandoning its familiar digest-size in favor of
a full-sized layout with about 100 color pages. Plans call for
the current 140 editions to be cut to one, with simply an
Eastern or a Pacific time zone designation.
Gemstar, based in Los Angeles, has been hard hit by
downturn in newsstand and subscriber circulation and a decrease
in advertising revenue for TV Guide as TV watchers increasingly
look to the Internet or on-screen guides for program listings.
The company overall posted a $3.7 million loss in the first
quarter while its revenue fell 9.2 percent to $175.4 million.
Revenue from its publishing group fell even more sharply,
dropping 16.3 percent to $82.3 million.
Its stock price is down 40 percent this year, falling
another 20 cents, or 5.6 percent, to $3.33 in early Nasdaq
trading on Tuesday.
TV Guide Publishing Group President John Loughlin said the
new magazine should be “more relevant for our readers and
“We’re deepening our relationship with readers by
delivering what our research shows they want — a big weekly
magazine that is focused on TV shows and characters — and
helps them find shows that appeal to their interests and
moods,” he said in a prepared statement.
But the overhaul will not come cheaply. The company said TV
Guide magazine operations will likely post a loss of $90
million to $110 million in the 2005 and 2006 fiscal years once
costs associated with the relaunch of its flagship magazine.
To spark interest, the company plans to initially cut the
newsstand price to $1.99 from the current $2.49. And while the
magazine will include about 40 pages of program listings, much
of the new format will be heavily weighted toward features.
About 75 percent of the content will consist of feature
stories, with the remaining 25 percent made up of listings –
opposite of the current emphasis.
TV Guide is also cutting the circulation it promises
advertisers by getting rid of 3 million sponsored sales, which
is circulation paid for by third parties. The magazine will
debut with a minimum paid circulation of approximately 4.5
million, although the advertiser rate base will be set at 3.2