KIDS MAGAZINES LEARN TO MULTIPLY;TIME INC. IS AMONG PUBLISHERS EXPANDING CHILD-ORIENTED TITLES

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New magazines for kids are sprouting, creating a new way for advertisers frustrated by declining audience levels for network and syndicated children's TV shows.

Among the new publications are Muse, Dinosaur and the first ad-supported regular edition of Time for Kids.

"Broadcast is still the No. 1 vehicle for reaching kids," said Paul Keppo, associate media director on Hershey Foods at DDB Needham Worldwide, New York, "but print is playing an increasingly important role for extending reach."

TIME INC.'S PLANS

One of the most ambitious projects is taking shape inside Time Inc.

Encouraged by the success of Sports Illustrated for Kids, for which Publishers Information Bureau reports that ad sales jumped 19.7% for the year through October, to 290.4 pages, Time is working on a plan for an ad-supported edition of its 2-year-old Time for Kids aimed at high schoolers.

A second edition will be aimed at third-graders; it will remain ad free.

Time's current version of Time for Kids-an edition without ads aimed at fourth- through sixth-graders-saw circulation jump from 700,000 at its launch in September '95 to 1.2 million by September '96. This fall, Ford Motor Co. became its first advertiser by sponsoring an election preview issue with three pages of advertising at $50,000 a page.

"We hope circulation for all three editions will reach 2 million," said Lisa Quiroz, general manager of Time for Kids, who plans to launch the two new editions next fall.

Strong circulation growth by existing titles is egging on more new entries and helping to transform the field with an array of special-interest magazines that one day may mirror their counterparts in the grown-up world.

"In the past, too many people looked at kids as either illiterates or sports nuts," said Bob Harper, president of the Cricket Magazine Group of Carus Publishing Co., which publishes Cricket, a magazine of literature and fairy tales for kids.

`MUSE' FROM `SMITHSONIAN'

In October, the company teamed with Smithsonian to launch Muse, a science title with a rate base of 100,000 aimed at 6-to-14-year-olds. It goes every-other-monthly in 1997.

More magazines are on the way. Former Hearst Magazines and Time Inc. publishing executive Daniel Zucchi is said to be joining a group of entrepreneurs who plan to launch early next year a magazine aimed at young boys, called Dinosaur.

NO GUARANTEES

Even for media giants, however, success in kids publishing is not guaranteed.

Comic-book king Marvel Entertainment appeared to be on a roll three years ago when it snapped up kids specialist Welsh Publishing. But it has been wracked by falling stock prices and financial losses in recent months.

Earlier, Times Mirror faltered when it tried to spin off a Popular Science for Kids in 1995.

"The response from readers was fantastic, but it's tough to get advertisers to commit to print," said Publisher Ron Bernstein.

That may be slowly changing. Even fashion advertisers Calvin Klein and The Gap recently ran ads in Nickelodeon, said Publisher Peggy Mansfield.

The 3-year-old Viacom-owned magazine is hiking its rate base to 700,000 effective with the January/February issue, from 550,000.

Advertisers with smaller budgets also are welcoming the range of new titles to help reach the 18.9 million kids in the 8-to-12-year-old bracket.

"Broadcast is way out of our budget," said William Hensley, marketing manager of Sanrio, a marketer of children's gifts and school supplies.

He said he plans to boost his $1 million ad budget about 20% next year, with the company's '97 media schedule calling for ads in Crayola Kids, Girl's Life, Kid City, Nickelodeon and 3-2-1 Contact.

REPEAT EXPOSURE

"The repeat exposure for print is a lot greater for kids than it would be for an adult publication," he said. "We've found that kids tend to hold onto magazines for a long time."

"Some of the new magazines will succeed," said Michael Drexler, president of BJK&E Media Group, Bozell Worldwide, New York. "They won't replace electronic media, but they have an increasingly important role in the media mix."

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