Meredith Corp. Teases Sale of 'Time'

Last month, Meredith Corp. oversaw the sale of Time Inc. UK to British equity fund Epiris, completing a transaction that had been in the works before its official acquisition of the company.

Now, in a story with The New York Timesthe company teased the possible sale of titles like TimeSports Illustrated and Fortune. Titles like People fit well in to Meredith’s stable of lifestyle brands, while more news-oriented brands don’t settle quite as nicely.

This isn’t a surprise.

Meredith twice attempted to buy Time Inc. Before the successful deal landed in late 2017, sales fell through twice, once specifically because of the company’s disinterest in TimeFortune and Sports Illustrated.

Since acquiring Time Inc., Meredith Corp has already sold off lifestyle titles Sunset and Essence.

This isn’t the first time the subject of Time Inc.’s namesake title being sold has come up, but it may be the first time specific actions have been discussed so openly. Reportedly, Meredith Corp. is exploring the possibility of a sale, or changing the frequency of the publication: for example, Time becoming a biweekly or monthly title.

A review of all Time Inc. brands will continue through the spring, when Meredith Corp. will likely decide on a course of action going forward.

Time magazine’s trajectory from journalistic powerhouse to dusty title lost in the digital age is well documented. However, Meredith is a known contender in digital media and the acquisition of Time Inc. forwarded that role. 

After the acquisition, Meredith’s digital and video operations increased traffic by 90 million unique monthly visitors to its websites, from 80 million to 170 million. According to Meredith, the company credits $700 million in annual digital advertising revenue to its total annual revenue. 

Meredith is the owner of 40 magazines and 50 websites with a total revenue of  $1.7 billion. Some 60% of that comes from its magazine business. If Time found a place within the company’s portfolio of titles, it could benefit from a seasoned team that understands how to turn a legacy title, like Better Homes & Gardens, for example, into a modern brand for the digital age.

A deciding factor will be whether Meredith is interested in broadening its reach as a media company, or wants to foster what its already known for: a home for strong, recognizable lifestyle brands.

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