The company has been making all kinds of moves in print that underscore its forward lean into the future. It just took its auto magazines off of six-month paid-circulation guarantees and is trying to sell against their total audiences instead. And last year it shut down print editions of Elle Girl and Shock before they even reached the prior era's standard launch period of five years.
The planned online network, called PointClickHome.com, will have tools and resources for consumers but also enable its component brands -- including Elle Decor, Home and Metropolitan Home -- to retain their own distinct websites, although those are being upgraded with video and new design as well. PointClickHome.com will be an entry point for people who want to remodel a home, are buying a new house or are otherwise "in the market."
"The shelter web network is consistent with our overall strategy to build vigorous digital platforms based on our strong brands," President-CEO Jack Kliger said. "New technology has given us the ability to better serve the needs of the in-market consumer who is remodeling or renovating. We are using the strong brand web sites and archives of Elle Decor, Home and Metropolitan Home combined with new interactive tools to help someone go through the entire process of making decisions -- from inspiration and research to purchasing their home makeover needs."
Mr. Kliger today said the company is not going to sell Premiere, batting down a report in yesterday's New York Post. "Premiere is a valuable brand for us in the U.S. as well as in France, where it is re-launching in early March with a website," he said. "We have been looking for partnerships, particularly as part of the digital development strategy for the brand. We will be announcing details about our plans in the next few weeks."
Joint venture partners
Word from executives in the industry, however, reveals that the company has sounded out potential joint venture partners for Premiere. Such a partnership would help it continue using the U.S. edition as a source of contacts and content for Premiere's international editions. A deal with the right partner could also supply Premiere with the celebrity-gossip news that readers have proven they want.
In the U.S., Premiere ad pages plunged 24.7% last year after growing 15.5% in 2005 and 27.1% in 2004, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Its paid circulation averaged 509,940 over the first six months of 2006, up slightly from 508,016 over first-half 2005, according to the most recent statements to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Its peak paid circulation of the last 10 years came in 1999, when it averaged 615,034, according to a Harrington Associates analysis.