Wednesday, December 10, 2008

An open letter to the new owners of TV Guide

Dear OpenGate Capital:

Congratulations on your purchase of TV Guide magazine. Now comes the hard part. Turning that storied magazine brand into a winner again.
Sure, its circulation has fallen from the glory days of nearly 20 million copies a week back in 1980 to 3.2 million today, according to the New York Times. But there’s still value in the brand.
You made a mistake not buying the TVGuide.com Web site along with the magazine. With so much video entertainment and news media shifting online, you were foolish not to take possession of an important Internet domain. Good luck trying to get people to find TVGuideMagazine.com, which apparently will be your new Web site early next year. For now it’s just a placeholder.
As for the magazine itself, I have some unconventional advice. Return the publication to its original compact, digest-size format. By shifting to the current, regular magazine size, you compete more directly with better magazines like Entertainment Weekly.
Plus, when you ditched the digest size in 2005, you lost that valuable space at the cash register in grocery stores. This week I surveyed the checkout lanes at my local Jewel grocery store in Wilmette, Ill., and had a difficult time finding any copies of TV Guide for sale. Since it doesn’t fit into those little racks near the register anymore, the stockers put it with other magazines like Us, People and the National Enquirer on the bigger racks at the entrance to each lane. But it’s been crowded out.
Why not go retro as an experiment? It couldn’t hurt.

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