Insiders hinted on Friday that American media's steady little earner, the weekly TV Guide, soon will only exist online and, after the Emmy issue, stop printing. The death of the magazine was announced prematurely, it seems. It has been going strong since its launch issue in 1953, featuring Lucille Ball and her big-bucks celebrity baby on the cover. At its height, TV Guide had a circulation of 17 million, back when there were just three networks and local stations were not broadcasting 24/7. Cable tv and the Internet have changed people's viewing habits and program reshuffling has created nightmares for the listings editors. Still, even though a long slow slide in circulation was noted, the 4 million paid subscriptions kept ahead of media giants such as People Magazine and InStyle.
But the brand is increasingly perceived as low market, so advertising is starting to dwindle as well. Replacing 42 local editions with local TV listings to a single national edition two years ago was a risky undertaking which alienated longtime subscribers. In many ways, TV Guide was the first taste of celebrity lifestyle reporting for most households and it launched an entire sub-industry. When the magazine attempted to reformat, it underwent a glossy makeover which backfired. Longtime readers revolted and stopped subscribing. Rest In Peace, TV Guide.
If reports are true, this indeed is the end of an era. But LostRemote, a tv blog, wheedled a response from a spokesman:
“TV Guide magazine is alive and well. There was no mandatory meeting today; like most businesses, our offices closed at 1pm for the holiday weekend. Everything is business as usual at TV Guide magazine as we are busy preparing for the new fall television season as well as our 5th annual after party celebrating the Emmys on September 16."