Disney to Invest in US Weekly

28 February 2001

The Walt Disney Company has agreed to take a 50% stake in Wenner Media’s celeb-friendly magazine US Weekly, which will be published by a new, co-owned company.

Announcing the deal, Disney chief executive Michael D Eisner explained that USW, which takes a non-aggressive approach to the world of celebrity, fits in with his own company’s clean-cut image: “As a company, we're not interested in angst and edginess and scandal. We are not interested in insulting people who work for us.”

Disney-owned network ABC Entertainment will also develop an entertainment awards broadcast under the USW banner.

Although financial terms were not disclosed, one Wenner executive let slip that Disney had poured $35 million into the title. The deal will relieve some of the financial burden of the magazine – which has yet to make a profit – from the shoulders of Jann Wenner, owner of the eponymous media group, whose investment so far is estimated at $25m–$35m.

Until last March when it adopted its current weekly format, USW had been a monthly title. However, after only three months its rate base – the circulation guaranteed to advertisers – was cut from one million to 800,000 following disappointing sales. Total circulation stood at 827,634 for the six months to December 31, down 17.3% on the previous period.

News source: New York Times