Time magazine said today that it will start delivering issues to newsstands on Fridays instead of Mondays, effective next January, as part of a larger effort to remake the magazine's business under Rick Stengel, who took over as managing editor in June, and Ed McCarrick, president-worldwide publisher. The shift also means the magazine will send its editorial content to printers in the middle of the week instead of at week's end.
'Time' is following in the footsteps of sibling 'People,' which saw ad pages jump when it switched to Friday delivery.'
Appeal to advertisers
Friday delivery should allow readers to spend more time with the magazine. Perhaps more important, weekend delivery might also attract more advertisers who want to reach readers when they are more likely to go shopping. People, Time Inc.'s revenue-producing juggernaut of celebrity news, switched to a Friday newsstand delivery several years ago, and ad pages and circulation bumps followed.
One rival publisher said the move was probably primarily financial. "It's cheaper because it's less congested at the plants," the publisher said.
Time Inc., which was singled out in Time Warner's most recent financial report as a disappointment, is under heavy pressure to improve revenue and margins -- partly by reallocating resources to areas like the web. Three weeks ago, it shut down Teen People's print edition but said the brand would continue online. And Time Inc., under Chairman-CEO Ann S. Moore, laid off about 450 employees from last December through April, though the company is adding about 50 positions to its web operations this year.
A spokeswoman said the change was not based on business factors: "This change will be cost-neutral."
Paid circulation at Time, which guarantees advertisers a rate base of 4 million copies, hasn't grown much over the last 10 years -- but has remained relatively steady. In 1995, total paid circulation averaged nearly 4.1 million; last year it averaged just above 4 million, according to figures compiled by Harrington Associates, publisher of newsletter "The New Single Copy."
Ad pages at Time are up 6.5% through July of this year, compared to the first seven months of last year, after falling 12.2% during all of 2005, according to the Publisher's Information Bureau.
When People switched its delivery schedule, it created a domino effect of competitors changing their deadline schedules to match it. The smallest newsweekly, U.S. News & World Report, has always had an earlier news deadline than larger rivals Time and Newsweek, which has often been cited as a disadvantage. Whether Newsweek will follow suit remains to be seen.