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Magazine to Digital Transition Challenges Time Inc.

  • Published on September 15, 2016
Magazine to Digital Transition Challenges Time Inc.

Digital competition, shifting media consumption habits, and shrinking print circulations continues to challenge Time Inc’s storied magazine brands. Time Inc. is the publisher of many of the most widely known brands, including Time, Sports Illustrated, People, and Fortune. American Graphics Institute has provided InDesign training and other Creative Cloud training classes to Time Inc. staff, including employees all these individual publications for more than a decade.

This week a new CEO was announced, with the previous leader, Joseph Ripp moving into a board role. The new head of Time, Inc., overseeing all brands and publications is Rich Battista, who previously served as executive vice president and also president for brands. While the transition is being touted by the company as prudent succession planning, the abrupt change makes it appear as though there were immediate business needs for the change, or possibly as a result of the recent share purchase by Jana Partners, who are known for seeking board and management changes in companies whose stock they purchase.

The new CEO, Rich Battista, has only been at Time, Inc for one year, habing worked previously at Fox Television. This change comes two months after a new Chief Content Officer was created to oversee editors at all publications. This position was filled by Alan Murray, who had served as editor of Fortune magazine. A reorganizations also occurred at this time in the sales organization.

Three years ago Time, Inc. was spun-off from Time Warner, turning the magazines back into an independent property. This takes the publications full-circle, after having been part of early Internet sensation’s AOL family of brands as part of AOL Time Warner before AOL became independent.

Despite the early connection to Internet publishing with AOL, Time’s series of publications have faced a challenge in growing as new initiatives are launched to offset declines in print subscriptions. While brands such as Sports Illustrated, Time, Fortune, and Life are well known brands, they have been eclipsed by modern publishers ranging from the likes of Huffington Post and Politico to Buzzfeed. Time has tried to diversify, making attempts at building offshoot businesses focused on events, creating new apps, and building new sites focused on specific demographics. This week they also launched an effort at creating an on-demand video app service under the People and Entertainment Weekly brands.

Despite showing gains in digital advertising, overall revenue has been relatively flat, which appears to have disappointed investors as reflected by declines in the company’s stock price. When measuring against many other publishers, Time’s ability to maintain revenues rather than seeing them drop considerably is a show of strength. With Rich Battista’s background at Fox Television, we are likely to see the traditional Time magazines become more omni-channel, with increases in video content and a stronger online presence.

About the author

Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which have sold more than one million copies. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he delivers Google Analytics training along with workshops on digital marketing topics. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.