My grandparents - who, like their generational peers, flock to voting booths en masse, make you repeat what you just said six or seven times and love a wicked game of Parcheesi - always had a copy of TV Guide in their living room. They nestled the pint-sized magazine in a plastic desk organizer along with their crosswords and sharpened No. 2 Pencils. I distinctly remember flipping through it during a childhood visit and wondering who, besides my grandparents, actually subscribed to TV Guide.
As it turns out, it's not nearly as many people as before. TV Guide ranked 13 on the Audit Bureau of Circulation's 2006 top-100 magazines list with about 3,500,000 copies. That's on the heels of the magazine's Technicolor makeover in 2005, aimed at amping up relevancy and ad dollars. It cut the local TV listings, tarted itself up with glossy photos and intentionally scaled back its circulation by about two-thirds.
In keeping with the magazine's refocus, the TV Guide brand has branched out to keep with the times. Last month, parent company Gemstar-TV Guide International, Inc. announced a licensing partnership with Sony USA to integrate its TV Guide On Screen interactive program guide into Sony television products. The company claims the deal opens the door to distribute its My TV Guide cross-platform guidance system to consumers. Unlike the magazine's dusty old local listings, My TV Guide makes personalized show suggestions; offers content like celebrity news in addition to program schedules; and lets users remotely schedule show recordings from their laptop or phone.
I just hope my grandparents are still able to use the remote control.