Old Media executives have been stepping forward lately to assert their will to survive — even thrive — in a New Media world. Only time will tell whether Old Media brands can indeed survive, but there is ample evidence of forward thinking and emerging digital strategy.
We will continue to look for strategic assets that may not be paper or traditional magazines — if they fit the portfolio and are poised for growth. There have been rumors we are going to be putting a little test magazine that’s only online in the marketplace [geared toward] younger men. They haven’t shown it to me lately because I’m not the target audience, but I’m sure that that’s moving through the pipeline nicely, so yeah. This is what I believe: We are a content company, OK? We create and we edit, and we aggregate the best content out there. We can deliver to you, our reader, in whatever format you want it in the future — maybe not on paper.
I think a big priority will be now to focus on Time.com, to see if we can get it as robust, in the same position as CNNMoney.com and SI.com are. Time will remain an important part of the company. It’s the flagship. Its name is on the building. I think our new [corporate] editor in chief [John Huey] was quoted the other day as saying it’s our most important magazine. I think we all feel that way…One of the biggest threats to our business is this confusion in the public between real, fact-based, checked news and opinion, which is very cheap… The newspaper business shares this threat. And so, I’m really committed, as is John Huey, to really paying attention to Time and figuring out how we can hold up the price value of fact-based news. It’s not just important to this company. This is important to the country.
We continue to explore new technologies and new means to deliver our content to our audience — build on our brands and, in some cases, change the game. For example, readers can now access BusinessWeek content whenever and wherever and in whatever format they prefer — print, online, television, blogs, or podcasts.
Magazines are turning the corner in two ways. They’re more efficient, downsizing their cost structures. Also, they’re growing their ad sales. The question is, Will there also be more magazines to share the bigger pie? Last year wasn’t bad and magazines are doing OK as we move into ’06, and I think our share of the market is increasing. TV is off, and as advertisers move dollars into new media, magazines are also getting their share of those dollars.
The reality is that new technology, far from being a threat, offers media companies the chance to solve an age-old problem. Our businesses were built on our ability to enlighten, entertain and educateÃ¢â‚¬â€whether through the pages of a novel, the images on a screen, or the facts in a news broadcast. We exist to connect masses of people with compelling content. Yet throughout history, our power to achieve that mass connection has been limited by distribution constraintsÃ¢â‚¬â€prohibitive costs, hard-to-reach locations, sluggish technology, etc. Even as media companies grew and thrived, complete access to a truly global audience was long out of reach.
Not anymore. Thanks to advances in both hardware and software, we can now reach almost anyone, anywhere, at any time, through a wide variety of devices. This new reality of ubiquitous low-cost distribution gives us more ways than ever to tell our stories and get them to an audience.
These innovations are helping transform the content business in revolutionaryÃ¢â‚¬â€and profitableÃ¢â‚¬â€ways. They allow what was once a one-size-fits-all, mass-only industry to reach out to niche audiences and create new markets. They give us license to take risks and be more flexible. All of our stories no longer need to be geared to a mass audience. We are free to experiment, free to be adventurous, and free to explore our boldest impulses. As choices explode even further, consumers will be the ultimate winners.
Here’s the risk to New Media upstarts like bloggers who think their content is going to take over the world — what if Old Media executives really start to “get it” and figure out how to leverage their most valuable asset — BRAND. Content may not turn out to be king, and distribution channels may be commoditized, but the power of brand is enduring.
Old Media companies like BusinessWeek understand that their brand is their real asset. They still see themselves as content providers, but they have extended their brand across all forms of digital media — the challenge now is to turn their digital brand into a sustainable advantage.