Makeover for America's Ailing TV Guide

28 July 2005

In the wake of several years decline, both in circulation and ad revenues, television listings magazine TV Guide plans to reverse its long slow slide with a major makeover and shift of editorial emphasis.

TV Guide, since 1953 an American institution and one-time weekly bestseller among magazines, is published by News Corporation-controlled Gemstar-TV Guide International.

It currently guarantees advertisers a circulation of 9 million across nine regional editions. However, it emerged earlier this month that Gemstar is mulling a reduction in the guarantee of up to one half - a move it hopes will bring circulation and ad rates into kilter.

In October, the book-sized (7.5 x 10.5 inches) title will be enlarged to full-size, with color throughout. Women in age group 35-54 are the target audience and the balance of editorial content, currently 75% listings to 25% feature articles, will be reversed.

Newsstand prices will be slashed from $2.49 to $1.99, while subscribers will automatically receive the revamped magazine at their current rate - with one exception. The lowest-paying subscribers (a mere 25 cents an issue) will face an increase.

In addition TV Guide will venture into new sales outlets such as airports and train stations, said Richard Battista, Gemstar's chief executive. "We think this is going to open up so many new readers to us."

The decision to implement a facelift was taken not a moment too soon. The June data from the Publishers Information Bureau reveals a 20.6% year-to-date plunge in advertising pages.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff