Teen People Folds In Print, Remains Online

Time Inc. shocked media executives Tuesday with the announcement that it's closing Teen People magazine. The company will continue to publish the online version, TeenPeople.com.

The decision to fold the print edition came after a difficult year and a half when the title was faced with declining circulation and ad pages. According to the Publishers' Information Bureau, Teen People's total ad pages for the first half of this year fell 14.4 from 2005, from about 353 to 302, while ad revenue fell over 10 percent in the same time period.

Roberta Garfinkle, senior vice president and director of print strategy for TargetCast, said the move "makes sense," given that teens are increasingly consuming media online. "Teens are not getting their news from magazines, because they're all online," she said.

Time Inc.'s move comes several months after Hachette Filipacchi closed Elle Girl's print edition in April. Like Teen People, Elle Girl kept its online presence.

Both companies have indeed cast a continuing Web presence as a profitable alternative to print publication--but Samir Husni, a professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi and expert on the magazine industry, said he was skeptical of that explanation. "The beauty of the Web is it gives magazine publishers the excuse, 'We're not really killing the thing, we're staying on the Web.' If people could only survive on the Web, don't you think Playboy would have folded its print edition long ago?"

Teen People is a victim of its own success, according to Husni, who traced the title's rise and fall beginning with its 1998 launch. "When Teen People was launched it was one of the big success stories," he said, "but then we had title after title for teens hitting the newsstands. That created this whole teen celebrity niche."

The first real setback was the arrival of InTouch, which appealed with lower prices and greater frequency: "I call it the InTouch weekly revolution. When InTouch launched the first major weekly covering the celebrities at this apparently cheaper price, $1.99 per issue, they took the market by storm." Husni went on: "Then came all the other weekly titles: InStyle, Us, Star changed from a tabloid to a magazine, then OK came to the market, then Celebrity Living."

Looking back, Husni said: "Those celebrity weeklies have replaced the need for the more expensive teen monthlies." And Garfinkle agreed: "Maybe the need for teen titles has gone."

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