BY THE NUMBERS: For all the talk of pay walls and electronic subscriptions in the last three months, old-fashioned ad sales led the publishing wings of a pair of media conglomerates to improved quarterly results Wednesday. Time Warner Inc.’s namesake magazine division posted a 4 percent gain in ad sales in its second quarter, led by growth in the beauty, food and beverage and financial categories. Overall publishing revenues held relatively flat at $919 million as the pickup in ad pages was offset by a drop in the nebulous “other” revenues category, which housed the impact of the sale of Southern Living at Home magazine last year. Operating income for the publisher improved 50 percent to $153 million on cost-saving programs such as pension trims. On the whole, Time Warner saw net income grow 7 percent to $562 million, or 49 cents a share, from $524 million, or 43 cents a share, a year ago. Advertising revenues throughout the company grew 11 percent in the quarter. Looking ahead, chief financial officer John Martin said Time Inc. should continue to make gains.
“Even though advertising growth comparisons here get more difficult as the year progresses, we see a continuation of positive trends in the back half of the year,” he said on a conference call.
This story first appeared in the August 5, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
News Corp., meanwhile, saw fourth-quarter operating income at its newspaper division climb 20 percent to $115 million thanks to ad gains worldwide, including 14 percent growth at Dow Jones. In the quarter, the entire company swung to a profit of $875 million, or 33 cents a share, from a loss of $203 million, or 8 cents a share, in 2009. Revenues grew 5 percent to $8.11 billion. The conference call game on Wednesday went of course to News Corp. chief executive officer Rupert Murdoch, who resisted the bait laid weeks earlier on The New York Times Co.’s earnings call when executives there criticized the Journal’s new Greater New York section. Instead, Murdoch took the occasion to tout what he sees as the dawn of the tablet computer age.
“I believe that that is a game changer all together,” he said of the iPad, before adding a truly revolutionary thought. “We’ll have young people reading newspapers.”
— Matthew Lynch
COMING SOON: Condé Nast’s whirlwind conversion to a consumer-driven business model continued apace on Wednesday when the company created space in its c-suite for a chief technology officer and poached Joe Simon from Viacom to fill it. The appointment came less than two weeks after chief executive officer Chuck Townsend unveiled a management shake-up that gave Robert Sauerberg the role of president and charged him with creating a “technology-enabled, consumer-centric” business model. Sauerberg told WWD on Wednesday that with the strategy in place it was important to him to make an early move to “move the needle,” and in his new chief technology officer he sees the man who will create the products to draw consumers in. “We’re really at the very beginning of this business,” Sauerberg said. “We want to get the team in place to really productize it.”
In the role, which he’ll assume officially on Aug. 16, Simon will lead all digital and technology operations for the publisher, not far off from his duties at Viacom, where he shepherded all things digital for MTV Networks, BET Networks and Paramount Pictures, among others. Sauerberg called Simon a “unifying talent” who could work with Condé Nast’s existing tech projects in a more collaborative-happy environment. He said Condé Nast Digital president Sarah Chubb will continue to report to him and that she was “the happiest person at Condé Nast” following the news of Simon’s hire. As for who else might be signing on for the makeover, Sauerberg said that decision will be up to the new hire. “Joe’s going to take it to the next level,” he said. “I’m going to let Joe decide what he needs to do to make that happen.”
RENEWED HEALTH: With the news that obesity continues to climb in America, Time Inc. could perhaps have picked no better time to relaunch Health magazine, with a complete overhaul of design and editorial in the September issue. For one, the cover features Molly Sims as styled by whippet-thin Rachel Zoe (are we the only ones to see some irony in that?) and the actress is set against a new logo and font. Inside, there are 26 new features and columns, as well as the brand’s first fashion section. Ellen Kunes, editor in chief, said there will be a minimum of 10 fashion pages per issue. “They see fashion as the perfect way to reward themselves for all the time they’ve logged at the gym,” she said of readers. Kunes, who served as founding editor of O, The Oprah Magazine, has tapped a few new columnists as well, including Gretta Monahan for fashion and Bobbi Brown. In terms of advertising, the issue is the biggest in its history (ad pages are up 40 percent, to 131), while at the newsstand, sales are up 29 percent since 2007 and, for the first half of 2010, are projected to be up 4 percent versus the same period last year. To further leverage the brand, Health is publishing two books this month, “The CarbLover’s Diet” and “What the Yuck?!” “Advertisers are responding to our new look but it will take some time to get fashion brands more involved,” admitted publisher Dave Watt.
— Amy Wicks