Meredith Adds 'Property Brothers' Title to Its Lineup of Magazines -- WSJ

Date : 10/15/2019 @ 7:02AM
Source : Dow Jones News
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Meredith Adds 'Property Brothers' Title to Its Lineup of Magazines -- WSJ

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By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg 

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (October 15, 2019).

Meredith Corp. is betting the same playbook that made Magnolia Journal its most successful magazine launch will work for a new title featuring Drew and Jonathan Scott, the hosts of the HGTV series "Property Brothers."

The publication, which doesn't yet have a name, is expected to launch in January, the company said. It will cost $9.99 an issue and publish four times a year -- the same frequency as Magnolia Journal, a lifestyle publication Meredith launched in 2016 with Chip and Joanna Gaines, who are also TV home-renovation stars. The Magnolia Journal went on to become the most profitable brand in its first year in operation in Meredith's 117-year history.

Meredith could use another hit. Its shares tumbled 23% in one day in early September and have only marginally recovered after it said profits for its fiscal year would be significantly smaller than anticipated. The media company attributed the surprise forecast to challenges related to its January 2018 purchase of Time Inc. amid industry declines in print advertising and newsstand revenues. As of Friday the stock was down 34% so far this year.

The Scott brothers have been fixing up houses on HGTV, a cable channel owned by television programmer Discovery Inc., since 2011. They have increased their media presence by starring in a series of national television commercials for various products, and operate a home-furnishing online store.

The twins see the coming magazine as a way to expand their brand, Jonathan Scott said.

"We will show beautiful homes and recipes, but it will also have a fun vibe that is missing from other magazines." Added Drew Scott: "We don't take ourselves too seriously. It's rooted in the home, but it's a lifestyle magazine."

Doug Olson, president of Meredith Magazines and general manager of Meredith's national media group, first pitched the Scott brothers on a print magazine at an Emmy Awards party in 2018. Meredith executives began attending such events after the media company bought Time Inc. The acquisition included People and Entertainment Weekly, both of which cover celebrities and the entertainment world.

The twins "offer a male perspective, siblings who are constantly trying to one-up each other," Mr. Olson said. "People want to know more about their lives, their advice and tips on how to renovate, and their ideas about food, sports and music." Those subjects, he said, will be covered in the new magazine.

Meredith will begin to solicit subscriptions to the new title immediately, and a yearly subscription will cost $20. Subscribers are expected to receive their first mailed issue in the second quarter of 2020. Advertising pages will be limited by choice, Mr. Olson said.

Meredith has refocused some of its titles to become more dependent on consumer revenue as concerns deepen about the future of print magazine advertising. Coastal Living and Cooking Light, for example, have been converted into newsstand-only, quarterly publications. Just like Magnolia Journal and the coming magazine featuring the Property Brothers, these less-frequent titles have higher cover prices. Coastal Living, for instance, costs $12.99 an issue, compared with $5.99 for People, a weekly magazine.

During its most recent earnings call, Meredith forecast print advertising revenue at its magazine group, which includes Better Homes & Gardens, InStyle and Real Simple, will decline in the mid-single digits for the fiscal year ended June 30. That is actually better than the industry as a whole. Research firm eMarketer forecasts that magazine print advertising revenue will decline 17% in 2019 to $7.5 billion compared with the prior year.

Meredith expects to print 500,000 copies of the new magazine featuring the Scott brothers, or 100,000 more than the first issue of Magnolia Journal when it made its debut in October 2016. Magnolia Journal now has a total circulation of more than 1.2 million, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

Meredith launched Magnolia Journal in partnership with Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines, whose home-renovation show "Fixer Upper" ran for five seasons on HGTV. The couple "recently announced plans for a new joint-venture with Discovery Inc., which includes their very own television network set to launch later next year," said a spokesman by email.

Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at jeffrey.trachtenberg@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 15, 2019 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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