TV Guide Brings Back-Of-The-Book Front-And-Center

TV Guide, continuing an editorial overhaul it began last fall, has updated and simplified what could be considered its core content: the black-and-white, second-half-of-the-book programming grids and listings.

The changes to the listings, starting with the May 16th issue, are part of an effort to make the magazine more applicable to the way viewers currently watch TV. The most prominent change to the listings content will be the creation of "First-Run This Week," an alphabetical index of all new series episodes and specials airing each week, which will run on the first page of the black-and-white section.

Each day's listings will also now include a "Hits & Misses" feature, replacing the previous "Highlights" feature. This new column, to be co-authored by Susan Stewart and Matt Roush, will run opposite the daily prime time grids. In addition, the magazine's listings will group films by genre rather than alphabetically.

Last fall, TV Guide launched the first phase of its overhaul by revamping its four-color front section editorial to include more last-minute news, more reviews, celebrity profiles, and longer feature stories.

The changes to the magazine's editorial content come during a time of softening readership, an expanding number of TV options, and an uncertain leadership future. The 51-year-old weekly has seen steady circulation declines for several years as more people turn to newspapers or online grids for TV listings. Although its circulation of 9 million still ranks it as one of the largest-circulation magazines in the country, five years ago its circulation was at 12.5 million.

While bleeding readers, the magazine has been faced with adapting its listings format to a TV universe that only becomes larger.

The venerable title is also without an editor in chief at the moment. Back on April 29, Michael Lafavore--who had been brought on board from Men's Health primarily to redesign the magazine--resigned from that position after a little more than a year on the job. Caroline Miller, late of New York magazine, has been rumored to be under consideration for the position.

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