TV's attraction irresistible for hungry titles

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Like June bugs drawn to a back-porch light, content-hungry TV networks and magazine publishers continue to attract each other despite challenges they face.

Many existing magazine-TV deals involve a simple exchange: A magazine provides content and brand sizzle to a network for an annual awards show or a TV special, and the on-air exposure enriches the magazine brand by reaching millions of viewers. Dollars rarely change hands in such publicity deals.

The latest trend involves cable TV networks, in particular, eyeing magazine publishers for content-sharing deals. (In general these deals are cut directly between publishers and network sales departments.) In turn, magazine publishers are angling to use TV to generate new revenue streams and subscription-gathering sources. Problems crop up when working out the financial details of such partnerships, however, due to the two media's contrasting cultures and the process of trading services and sharing information about potential sponsors.

"Magazines are pounding on our doors to talk about more complex deals, but mostly it's difficult to find common ground and we can't agree on the terms," says Adam Rockmore, VP-marketing for Scripps Networks' Food Network, which regularly features magazine editors in publicity-for-content deals.

Although details of potential revenue-sharing schemes are kept private, publishing insiders say cable networks are sweetening the lures for magazines.

In many cases, magazines are gaining advantages such as negotiating for more impressive TV coverage of major awards programs and special issues. Conde Nast Publications' "GQ Men of the Year" special issue in November will be covered on network broadcast TV for the second time, when the program airs in October on General Electric Co.'s NBC, surrounded by on-screen promotional fanfare for the issue. The "Men of the Year" issue got a special on News Corp.'s Fox network in 2000, but last year the TV special was pulled from NBC due to the Sept. 11 attacks.


The more specialized a magazine is-provided it has a large and stable circulation-the better its chances of inking a favorable deal in the increasingly niche-oriented cable TV universe, say insiders. But even subtle negotiations in magazine-TV deals can be difficult, because magazines and TV networks see their values differently.

"A lot of deals with magazines fall through because it's very hard to find equal ground on TV specials and special issues," says Robin Ulrich, VP-marketing for Scripps Networks' DIY-Do It Yourself Network. "TV's costs are amortized over a long period of time and segments vary widely in their profitability, while the print model has finite costs and very specific reach for each issue," she says.

This year, however, DIY Network inked a deal with F&W Publications' Popular Woodworking in which F&W contributes content to the cable network for its TV programming and Internet site in exchange for on-screen touts for the magazine. The two entities cooperated on a spring promotion backed on their respective media that yielded millions of entries, Ms. Ulrich says.

"We offered more elements to F&W than we had to other publishers, because together we reached agreement on what our elements of the equation were worth," she says.

This fall Conde Nast's Self launches its biggest-ever TV tie-in with Viacom's VH1 for "Rock Bodies," a 1-hour special airing Sept. 2 and focusing on how rock stars keep in shape, says Beth Brenner, VP-publisher. Self will back the TV special with a multipage feature section, and so far the magazine has sold sponsorships to Liz Claiborne (apparel), Paul Mitchell (haircare) and Sally Hansen (nailcare), among others, Ms. Brenner says. Details on whether all the magazine section sponsors will be featured on the TV special haven't been finalized yet, she says, but there is "cooperation" between the two partners in marketing the concept to advertisers.

For the first time, Conde Nast's Allure also is holding talks with TV networks about building cross-promotional and joint ad opportunities, says Nancy Berger, VP-publisher.

Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. is in talks with a variety of undisclosed cable networks about finding revenue-producing TV opportunities by 2003 for its titles including Boating, Cycle World and Flying, says David Fishman, the company's senior VP-brand development.

In 1999, Hachette launched "Car & Driver Television," a weekly series based on its automotive title airing on cable's TNN. It has been so successful that Hachette has taken the show's production in-house, and for the upcoming fall season, Hachette will hold back all of the show's commercial inventory and keep the profits, Mr. Fishman says.


On-screen promotions for the magazine have become Car & Driver's No. 1 source for new subscriptions, he says; the company hopes to repeat that success with other Hachette titles. "Even though Car & Driver has a very aggressive promotional program, on TV we're reaching a different group of people, and it's expanded our franchise considerably," Mr. Fishman says.

For magazine-TV tie-ins to work, both sides must be willing to yield yardage, says Mr. Rockmore. "Magazines must be willing to go beyond merely duplicating editorial that's already appearing in magazines, and TV networks must be prepared to actually buy pages in these magazines," he says, adding that his company expects to ink such deals in the near future.

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