If a magazine publisher entered the TV listings genre today, it might be met with a collective: “Are you joking? You must have some cash to burn.” TV Guide is turning 60 next week, but while its circulation remains over 2 million a week, it has nowhere near the influence it once did. So there’s no reason to think it's operating in a growth area in the U.S.
Apparently, it’s the opposite in the U.K. Guess no one over there has heard of the Internet?
Earlier this month, Northern & Shell launched the weekly TV Pick. And get this: the U.K. magazine with the highest circulation is a weekly TV listings publication, the Bauer-owned TV Choice.
Doesn’t the country avoid magazines without William and Kate or some troubled soccer star on the cover?
TV Pick’s launch has sparked a price war. At launch, it cost 5 pence less than the 45 pence Bauer was charging. But Bauer retaliated with a 38 pence price, according to The Guardian.
Then, TV Pick shot back with a 20 pence price for its second issue and Bauer met it there.
There is at least one more listings magazine across the pond in IPC Media’s What’s On TV, with a circulation not far below TV Choice, selling for 52 pence.
“The launch of TV Pick underlines our commitment to the magazine sector and our confidence that we can grow market share by being smart and leveraging our unique promotional resources and relationships,” Paul Ashford, group editorial director at Northern & Shell, told The Guardian. “We are very excited about being able to offer readers the best–priced TV listings title in the market.”
Northern & Shell owns the OK! franchise and TV properties, which it can use for promotion.
As for TV Guide back in the U.S., it’s counting on history to help it do well this year with six special covers to celebrate its milsetone. Each will represent a decade of its lifespan with Lucy, "Star Trek," Mary Tyler Moore, Cosby, "The Simpsons" and "Lost."
The magazine has no direct challenger to prompt it to cut its cover price. On one level, that might be unfortunate.