Time Inc (US)


Time Inc was until 2014 the magazine publishing division of media giant Time Warner. Now independent, it remains the world's biggest magazine publisher, with more than 120 magazines and almost 146m readers a month, but performance has been in steep decline for several years. Its US titles include three of the country's biggest magazines in People, Sports Illustrated and Time, while its European operations were greatly enhanced by the purchase in 2001 of IPC Media, the UK's #1 consumer publisher. Group revenues peaked at a little under $5.0bn in 2006, but Time Inc has struggled to cope with the crushing decline in print advertising revenues since then. In 2013, talks to sell the bulk of its titles to rival Meredith ended without agreement; instead Time Warner spun off the business as an independent public company in early 2014 under chairman & CEO Joseph Ripp. Rich Battista succeeded Ripp as CEO in 2016. Revenues slumped to a new low of $3.08bn that year, and a second consecutive net loss. Since the end of 2016, the company has received several approaches from potential acquirors, but withdrew from negotiations in early 2017 pledging to take its chances as a standalone business. However, the economic climate continued to worsen for Time, and a few months later, Meredith was back in contact. The smaller company eventually secured a deal to acquire Time Inc for $2.8bn in cash and debt. Founded in 1922 by journalists Henry Luce and Briton Hadden, Time magazine is still one of the world's best-known magazine brands. Fortune was created eight years later to give greater weight to Time's business coverage and after WWII the company moved into book publishing and eventually cable TV. Its investment in the Turner cable empire led to a mammoth merger with fellow shareholder Warner Bros in 1989. Adbrands does not currently profile this company but subscribers may access account assignments and contact information. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to Adbrands.net premium services. Click here to access Adbrands account assignments (subscribers only); or see here for information on how to subscribe.

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Capsule checked 20th February 2017


Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Nov 2017: Time Inc accepted an offer worth $2.8bn in cash and debt to be acquired by smaller rival Meredith Corporation. That long-expected deal - the two companies have been talking off and on about merger for years - was clinched with the injection of $650m of cash from Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who control Koch Industries, one of America's biggest private conglomerates. Their investment company will end up as the combined group's largest single shareholder with 10% of equity. Much has been made of the highly Conservative brothers' involvement, but a statement declared that they will not have a position on the board and "will have no influence on Meredith's editorial or managerial operations". According to several media reports, Time Inc employees were shocked that the deal had taken place, and that Meredith not Time will be the senior partner in the combination. Time "was once a very powerful, very important, very profitable force in the global publishing industry and an important player in the journalism world," said former editor-in-chief John Huey. "It's now a severely wounded animal." Huey's predecessor as editor-in-chief, Norman Pearlstine, commented "The reality is that Time was a print company that produced great consumer brands but they were not brands for which it was easy to make a transition in an age of mobile. You can point to lots of things that might have been done differently or might have been done better, but I'm not sure any of that could have overcome that basic reality." The enlarged Meredith inherits Time Inc's position as the global leader in what is now a rapidly declining magazine industry. Time, Sports Illustrated, People and other titles join Meredith's Better Homes & Gardens, Martha Stewart Living and Family Circle. However, Meredith is firmly focused on the US market, where it also owns a collection of regional TV stations affiliated to one or other of the four main broadcast networks. Time is already seeking a buyer for most of its international division, primarily operating in the UK. Time Inc reported revenues of almost 2.9bn last year, but performance has been in steep decline since it was spun off from Time Warner in 2014. Meredith reported revenues last year of $1.7bn.

Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Nov 2017: Struggling magazine publisher Time Inc is seeking to reinvent itself as a diversified media producer. This week it announced the launch of Sports Illustrated TV, its first subscription video channel, built around one of its most popular magazine titles. The channel is available initially only via Amazon's streaming platform at a cost of $4.99 a month, and offers a mix of original documentaries and studio shows as well as archived sports content and movies. The group already operates free-to-view interview and entertainment strand PeopleTV, partnering its People and Entertainment Weekly titles. Hot on the heels of that announcement came the news that Meredith Corporation has reopened talks to merge with Time Inc. Earlier this year, a previous approach collapsed because Meredith was having difficulty raising enough cash to seal a deal. Now, though, it is reported to have secured additional funding from the billionaire brothers who control America's biggest private corporation Koch Industries.

Adbrands Weekly Update 12th October 2017: In its latest scaling-back of operations, Time Inc said it will gradually reduce the weekly circulation of flagship title Time by around a third to 2m, primarily by eliminating free promotional copies. It will also reduce the frequency of seven other titles, including Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly and Fortune, starting in January. Full details have yet to be disclosed but in Sports Illustrated's case it will entail a drop to 27 issues per year rather than the 38 scheduled for 2017. Instead, editorial pages of each issue will increase by around 23% on average.

Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Jul 2017: Ailing Time Inc is considering a change of name to cut ties to its traditional print-based roots and reposition as a digital media company. "We're excited about our business strategy and momentum, and we are in the early stages of considering a rebranding effort to reinforce the success of our transformation from a legacy publishing company to a multi-platform consumer media company," a spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.

Adbrands Weekly Update 4th May 2017: Magazine giant Time Inc has ended talks to sell itself to one of several potential suitors, and will instead attempt to go it alone. That prompted a sharp fall in the company's share price, and also in that of its most likely acquiror Meredith Corp. Time's shares had risen steadily since it opened negotiations with possible partners late last year. "The board determined that pursuing our own plan is the right course of action," said CEO Rich Battista. "We think it's in the long-term interest of our shareholders to execute that plan." He said the company would focus its attention on core assets and areas of growth, and might dispose of weaker titles.

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