ABC Snaps Up One Issue of Life: Will It Snap Back?

Media companies are now dipping their toes into the waters of single sponsorship of magazines. But snapping turtles lie beneath the water line.

In an upcoming issue of the yet-again-reborn Life magazine, ABC bought nine pages for $3 million for its midseason shows including "Emily's Reasons Why Not," "Crumbs," "In Justice" and the next episode of "Dancing With the Stars."

Worried about Life magazine's journalistic integrity? Don't be.

It's not that I don't worry about being told the truth, but Life magazine--in the past known for its great photographs--isn't the place I normally go for hard and fast news.

Will we expect to see any rough details about the lives of any Walt Disney's executives in Life's pages in the coming months? I guess not. No doubt Life might now be hiding some expose on Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives."



TV networks such as CBS will soon be releasing its own magazine. Watch! will focus on all things CBS--and be sold to consumers on the same newsstands as the likes of Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, and the rest.

Will this confuse readers? It shouldn't. If you worry about journalistic issues, I'll direct you to millions of bloggers for confirmation of some facts.

From ABC's point of view: Why not? Marketing-wise, it's always tough to get sampling. Special marketing tricks such as this may not go a long way, but can spike things up.

For Life magazine: Why not? It hasn't broken into the big and lucrative movie category yet. This isn't a bad first step.

The single-sponsor activity is controversial for sure, but in the hard-pressed magazine business world it's a way to generate big ad page revenues. Others have gone this route recently: Target Stores sponsored an entire issue of The New Yorker in August; in October, Infinity Broadcasting sponsored an entire issue of Advertising Age.

Well, you know editorial hates the sales side of the business and vice versa. Right now I place my money on money.

Journalistically, the traditional waters are getting harder to navigate. You can always just keep your feet in the sand.

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