By: Jennifer Saba
Apparently three times is not a charm at Time Inc. The company decided to shutter LIFE magazine — which has been re-launched three times — blaming the lousy newspaper environment as the culprit.
Time Inc. said this morning that because newspapers are having a hard time with advertising revenue — February has been particularly dreadful — LIFE was dragged down too. But former competitors USA Weekend and Parade are telling a different story.
Dave Barber, senior vice president of newspaper relations at rival USA Weekend, was shocked to hear that Time killed LIFE. “Their issues had been looking good,” he said. “It’s disappointing to see someone go out.”
But Barber is quick to say that the Gannett-owned supplement had its “best year ever last year” with advertising. “You are looking at two magazines now with us and Parade. We are not going anywhere. We are stronger than ever.”
USA Weekend has a circulation of about 23.4 million and is carried in 612 newspapers.
Randy Siegel, president and publisher of Parade, said he would have liked to see LIFE survive as well but is still bullish on the future of newspapers. “It’s sad whenever a publication closes and the folks at LIFE did some nice things,” he said. “It’s just hard to be a number three player in any category in media. I assume that was one of their biggest challenges.”
Siegel said they intend to contact the newspapers carrying LIFE about switching over to Parade. “We have strong relationships with the newspapers that carried LIFE. We will be engaging them in conversation in the next few weeks.?
He would not disclose how much revenue Parade made but said that they had a solid year: “We believe newspapers have a very vibrant future especially if they embrace the changes occurring in the market place. If you have a great brand and a loyal audience and good growth plan, you can be successful in this arena.”
Parade, owned by Advance Publications, has a circulation of 32.5 million and is carried in approximately 400 newspapers.
According to Magazine Publishers of America, which tracks yearly revenue and ad pages based on open rate cards, USA Weekend’s ad revenue was up 10.5% to $476 million in 2006 compared to 2005. Parade’s ad revenue grew 2.6% to $642 million while LIFE’s increased 7.7% to $129 million.
Time revamped LIFE magazine in October 2004 as a newspaper supplement distributed mainly on Fridays. USA Weekend and Parade are carried mostly in Sunday papers.