A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.
When Hearst Magazines and Scripps Networks said they planned to start testing HGTV Magazine this fall, it was easy to wonder whether the world could support another magazine centered on the home.
The category's brutal culling from 2007 through 2009 killed off new and old entrants including House & Garden, Home, Cottage Living, Country Home, Domino, Metropolitan Home, Southern Accents, O at Home and Blueprint. The survivors now battle over vastly reduced advertising. Ad pages for home furnishings and supplies in the first half fell 11.4% from the first half of last year and 51.8% from the first half of 2006.
"This transition, while hard to go through, is probably fairly normal in any marketplace that got too big," said Charlie Kammerer, publisher of Time Inc.'s This Old House. "At the end of the day, it will be good to be a place that is right-sized for consumer demand."
So is this any time to add another shelter title? "In my view, the answer to that right now is no," said Steve Levinson, VP-group publisher at Meredith , which publishes Traditional Home and Midwest Living. Consumer demand is strong and getting stronger as readers spend more time considering and planning renovations, he said. But advertisers have become fewer and more cautious.
Media buyers, however, are intrigued by HGTV Magazine. "It's very inspiring, easy and accessible," said George Janson, managing partner and director of print at Group M, which places ads for marketers including Ikea. "We think it brings something very, very different to the whole category."
Hearst says it believes in shelter magazines -- including its Elle Decor, House Beautiful and Veranda -- but HGTV Magazine will be broader. "It's really going to be in the lifestyle space," said Michael Clinton, president for marketing and publishing director at Hearst Magazines. Focus groups showed that consumers don't just think of HGTV, the cable channel, as a shelter network, he said. "It's got a much more elastic brand to it."
The first test issue will include 50 ad pages -- free to advertisers because it's only a test -- from a range of categories including, of course, home, but also food, automotive, retail, finance and technology.