CEO Hopes to Extract More Revenue From Consumers

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. will reduce rate bases and raise cover prices for three of its magazines next year. The moves address what President-CEO Jack Kliger has identified as crucial issues for the publishing industry.

Premiere, American Photo and Sound & Vision will see their rate bases fall. Premiere will also be retooled in a bid for profitability at the struggling movie magazine.

'Adding value'
"We're adding value," Mr. Kliger said, "and charging the consumer more for it." Mr. Kliger has often voiced concerns over inflated rate bases and the need to wring additional revenue from circulation and consumer marketing.

Effective with its

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February issue, Premiere's rate base will drop by 100,000 to 500,000. Its single-copy price will jump to $3.99, from $3.50. The magazine will also grow its trim size and shift from monthly to 10-times-yearly frequency.

"The 500,000 level is good for an enthusiast book," Mr. Kliger said. "I just got tired of chasing marginal readers."

The newly combined issues will each have a theme, a preview of the coming year in film in December-January and a focus on sex in July-August. "July-August has always been a weak time for us," said Editor in Chief Peter Herbst.

Declining ad pages
Although it significantly outsells its independent monthly competitor Movieline, Premiere has not been profitable in recent years. While its status at Hachette is assured because of nine international editions that rely heavily on content from the U.S. edition, the title has seen steep declines on the ad front. Through September its ad pages were down 14.5%, to 253.5. In 2001, as well as the boom year of 2000, the title suffered 20%-plus page declines.

In another indication that Premiere is not as fat with ads as its parent would like, the magazine will no longer be perfect-bound. With recent issues clocking in below 100 pages, Premiere has been one of the thinner perfect-bound titles on newsstands.

Still, Mr. Kliger voiced optimism. "There will eventually be an ad upside," he said. "The trend is good, and advertisers will understand and respond well to the moves."

One who might, despite some doubts: Pam McNeely, senior vice president and group media director at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Dailey & Associates, Los Angeles. At last month's Premiere Women in Hollywood luncheon, which claimed sponsors such as Chanel, she said, "celebs came out in droves."

Maintaining an image
"Their ability to maintain that image among the people they report on is pretty amazing, considering it is kind of the incredible shrinking magazine," Ms. McNeely said.

"I don't think readers have found their way back," she added. In the first half, Premiere's total circulation rose 1.9%, but newsstand sales dropped 18.7%.

Ms. McNeely said the changes could help. "If they shrink rate base and make it better looking, it could change its [demographic] numbers pretty rapidly -- which would help on advertising."

As it reduces frequency, the magazine will add editorial pages to each issue, though on a yearly basis there will be fewer total edit pages. Premiere will also beef up its reviews, nearly doubling the pages devoted to them. And this fall, Hachette unveils two branded Premiere books, its first.

In other moves, Sound & Vision will drop its rate base to 400,000 from 450,000 next year and raise its cover price to $4.99 from $4.50, while American Photo will shrink to 200,000 from 250,000 and raise its cover price to $4.50 from $3.99.

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