Sports Illustrated to Go Monthly in 2020
NY Post: Sports Illustrated, sold by Meredith Corp. to Authentic Brands Group earlier this year, for $110 million, will reduce its print frequency from twice monthly to monthly, plus four special issues and the swimsuit issue, starting next year. SI went from weekly to every other week in January 2018. "“We’re refining the exact schedule, but it will be essentially a monthly with four season-preview issues and the SI Swimsuit for a total of 17 issues,” said co-editor Steve Cannella, who moved into the job last month as part of a shake-up that saw 40 staffers — including 13 from the editorial side — axed... When adding in issues by SI Kids and SI Presents, or special print editions tied to epic events such as the Super Bowl and World Series, there will be 27 print editions under the SI brand in 2020, he said.And there will be no further staff cutbacks: “We’re going to be building staff,” Cannella said. Last week, SI raided Yahoo Sports to hire Pat Forde, who one source called a “big money hire""... When Authentic acquired SI, "Maven, a Seattle-based tech and digital publisher, took over the media operations in a licensing deal with ABG. The 10-year deal included a $45 million down payment. Since taking over operations, Maven has said it has built 80 team-specific sites covering college football, the NFL and the NBA. These sites drew 4 million visitors in their first month, October, with 5,000 stories, including videos and commentary, Maven said."
Time Magazine Debuts Time 100 Next List
E Online: The first Time 100 Next list -- recognizing the most influential public figures of the year, spanning entertainment, politics, business, human rights and other areas -- debuts in the November 25 issue. Among the honorees are six who each have their own cover: musician Camila Cabello, actress Awkwafina, NBA star Zion Williamson, sexual assault survivor/activist Chanel Miller, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, and Glossier founder Emily Weiss. Inside, pieces about some of the honorees have been penned by guest contributors including Jimmy Fallon, Ricky Martin, Camila Mendes, Hillary Clinton and Olivia Wilde.
Hearst's Focus Changes from Scale to Influence
FIPP: Brooke Siegel, VP of Content at Hearst, who oversees 25+ brands, spoke about how Hearst is optimizing content at FIPP World Media Congress in Las Vegas on Nov. 12. Excerpts from coverage: "For the past several years, we chased scale,” she said. “But, we've been running a bit of an editorial laboratory at Hearst, learning from each other across brands and across platforms, all of the time"... Hearst is now looking at the future beyond scale. How do you grow your business when you've captured 'everyone'?, Siegel asked. “What we're looking at now is focusing on making each interaction we have with our audience deeper, growing the connections, finding ways to make that relationship with your readers deeper," she answered. 'What is the new metric to measure that?" For Hearst, that means a mix of engagement metrics, including time spent, number of visits per month, interactions, number of stories read per session. But, it's also becoming more focused around influential content. “It could be you're reaching less people, but they're the right ones,” Siegel said. “Service, news and features have really always been the cornerstone of lifestyle media. Now, we're layering on influence, connecting with the right audience in a deeper way and building more of a relationship. It's about knowing where your brand has authority, and where you really resonate, and going deeper into that.” In recent months, this delving deeper into influence and relationships can be seen via newsletters, like Food Network's newsletter that only subscribers get; events, like Road & Track's luxury events; and micro-subscriptions featuring blogger/pundit Charlie Pierce's content. “That's how we're thinking about the next chapter,” Siegel said. “It's about finding a way to have a relationship with our audiences that is deeper and more meaningful.”
The New Yorker Airs 'Borderlands' Documentary
MediaPost: "“Borderlands” highlights how city planners, commuters and children deal with the wall that divides their cities.It is the latest video partnership between The New Yorker and the Van Alen Institute. The two have collaborated on the “Van Alen Sessions,” a short, online documentary series.The sixth season showcases “Borderlands,” which focuses on three U.S.-Mexico border cities: San Diego and Tijuana; Brownsville and Matamoros; and El Paso and Juarez"...
Palm Coast Data: Burke Retiring, Meneough Returns
Studio Media Group, the private investment firm that bought fulfillment company Palm Coast Data in April, announced that Rory Burke, 63, the company's president/CEO for a decade, will retire at the end of the year. Former PCD CEO John Meneough, 71, will take over as interim president/CEO. Studio Media Group, created by entrepreneur/investor Liam Lynch, is a subsidiary of Irish Studio, a publisher based in Ireland and New York that was a PCD client. It bought PCD from Amrep (also the former owner of the shuttered Kable newsstand distribution business and a magazine fulfillment business that is now a product fulfillment business) for $1 million in cash and long-term leases on two PCD buildings in Palm Coast, Fla., according to Flagler Live's coverage of the sale, in April. "The deal is structured primarily around the rent payments: Studio Media provides $1 million in cash, but the 10-year lease with Amrep is such that even though the market rate on the property works out to about $1 million in rent, the payments are $1.9 million a year to start, rising to $2.5 million a year by 2029: that’s how Amrep, now exclusively a real estate company, is making its revenue," says that article. "Amrep, in other words, found a certain tenant for the two buildings, for 10 years... [but is also packaging the] two buildings for a $23.75 million sale"... Amrep acquired PCD through its Kable Media Services affiliate in late 2006. PCD, which began operating in Florida in 1984, has expanded beyond magazine subscription fulfillment, to also offer digital services and membership services.
People Reportedly Sends Legal Warning Over US Mag 'Sexiest Men Alive'
NY Post Page Six: "A source told Page Six that People magazine sent a legal warning shot to Us Weekly after it published its own “Sexiest Men Alive” list in both print and online on Wednesday — hours after People revealed that John Legend is this year’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”This resulted in the publication removing all trace of the poll from its website and social platforms.Not only has People been bestowing this honorific on male celebrities for the past 34 years, but it has also held a registered trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the franchise since 2002. This didn’t stop Us Weekly from launching an online poll last week asking for readers to vote for “The Real Sexiest Men Alive!” And on Wednesday, the magazine had a cover chip featuring photos of Hollywood hunks The Rock, Jason Momoa and Chris Hemsworth. The blurb read: “Voted by you! The Real Sexiest Men Alive!”The move left People staffers baffled as another source told us: “This seems like such a futile and ridiculous attempt to compete with People. Everyone knows that SMA has been an integral part of People for more than 30 years and it’s a franchise that we protect and guard very closely.” A source at Us Weekly’s publishers, American Media Inc., confirmed the lawyers had been in touch, and told Page Six they hoped to have everything sorted out “amicably, soon.” It was also pointed out that AMI had previously sold Shape magazine to People publishers Meredith. People has 3.3M total circulation, while Us Weekly’s circulation is at 1.95M. The AMI publication’s circulation has also decreased by 33% YoY. Both AMI and People declined to [officially] comment."
How The NY Times Is Using Registration As Part of Its Successful Paid Model
In Nieman Lab, media analyst Ken Doctor points out that the "failing" New York Times now employs 1,700 journalists, up nearly 50% from a decade ago; has nearly 5M subscribers, triple its print-era peak; and is now preparing to up its digital prices by so-far-undisclosed amounts. "The Times has decided to force non-subscribers to register in order to sample even a couple of articles... That new emphasis on registration serves an overarching goal: [CEO Mark] Thompson’s goal to hit 10M subscribers by 2025"... Excerpts from a Q&A with Thompson: "We want to be part of a successful content industry. Honestly, we want to be a globally scaled subscription business. There aren’t many legacy news organizations we compare ourselves to... we’re pretty jealous of the quality boundaries and the seriousness boundaries of the brand... My view of the Times has been that in its DNA, it’s thoughtful. It’s always been journalism for a certain kind of person — a person who prefers to devote some time to it. It’s not a generic or full-spectrum offering... We’re asking pretty much everyone who wants to read more than one article to register and log on, after which they get a greater number of articles [which varies, based on scoring]... The biggest single effect is to greatly increase the numbers of registered logged-on users — registered logged-on non-subscribers, in particular. I have to say, though, it’s also helping some subscribers because it’s also dealing with another issue, which is subscribers who draw back on their logged-on state for whatever reason on a device where they never registered. Which happens a lot, and people appear as anonymous users... [Due to registration, NYT is] able to track a much larger number of people across devices and over time. Serve them better. Begin to learn how to, in ways which are respectful of their choices, put content in front of them, send them messages"...
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:
Ecommerce, Grocery Drive U.S. Q3 Gains for Walmart
SN: "Walmart accelerated U.S. sales gains in its fiscal 2020 third quarter, spurred by strong grocery volume and what CFO Brett Biggs called the “best quarter of sales growth this year” for U.S. e-commerce. The retailer on Thursday also posted GAAP and adjusted EPS that beat Wall Street’s consensus estimate, hitting the high end of analysts’ projections. For the 13 weeks ended Oct. 25, Walmart had overall revenue of $127.99B, up 2.5% from $124.89B a year earlier. In constant currency, revenue was $129B, a gain of 3.3%. U.S. same-store sales were up 2.8%. Consolidated net income was $3.29B, or $1.15 per diluted share, vs. $1.71B, or 58 cents per diluted share a year ago. Adjusted net EPS... were $1.16 vs. $1.08. Analysts had forecast adjusted EPS of $1.09, on average. “The sales environment in the U.S. continues to be positive, while internationally its softer and we’re responding appropriately,” Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon told analysts... "Our work to create a seamless omnichannel experience for customers continues... You can measure our progress in a number of areas, including online grocery, where we now offer pickup, delivery or both in nearly a dozen countries--including the U.S., where we now have more than 3,000 locations for pickup and more than 1,400 locations that offer delivery. We’re learning a lot as we expand these services. We’ll use this knowledge to inform the new capabilities we build and deepen our relationship with customers.” At Walmart U.S., Q3 net sales climbed 3.2% to $83.2B from $80.6B a year ago. Same-store sales rose 3.1%, reflecting a 0.1% negative impact from fuel. Number of transactions grew 1.3%, while ticket size rose 1.9%. Operating income climbed 6.1% to $4.2B. “We continue to see good traffic in our stores. We’re growing market share in key food and consumables categories, including fresh, and we had positive comps in general merchandise,” McMillon said. “Comp sales growth of 3.2%, along with good expense management, helped us leverage SG&A, particularly in physical stores, even as we made investments in price. This led to growth in operating income for the sixth consecutive quarter. On a two-year stack, comp sales of 6.6% are among the best we’ve seen in a number of years.” Biggs also pointed to grocery as a standout category in the quarter. “Fresh food was particularly strong this quarter, with mid-single-digit comp sales growth, as improvements in areas like bakery and meats are resonating with customers We’ve focused on improving fresh presentation and product quality, and this has resulted in stronger sales and market share gains, according to Nielsen,” he said in the call. “Private-brand sales continue to be strong, with increased penetration versus last year. We saw modest deflation in food, as our price investments negatively affected ticket this quarter, but consumables’ inflation increased modestly year over year. U.S. e-commerce sales jumped 41% at the top line and were up 1.7% on a comp basis for Q3. In ecommerce, we had our best quarter of sales growth this year, up 41%.,, grocery pickup and delivery... was a meaningful contributor to overall e-commerce growth"...
How Wegmans, H-E-B Are Surviving Amazon
CNN: "Some regional chains like H-E-B, Publix, Wegmans, Hy-Vee and others are proving pretty resilient. These grocers have opened new stores and grown sales in the cutthroat industry. The grocers have thrived because they have mastered their local markets. They are nimble and often able to respond more quickly to shifting consumer tastes and make changes in stores than national chains with layers of management. "Regional grocers tailor their offerings by neighborhood, matching the experience to that local community," said Ryan Fisher, partner in the retail practice of consulting firm A.T. Kearney. "It's tough for the national players to match this."Last year, sales at traditional supermarkets slipped 1.7% compared with 2017, even as they grew at wholesale clubs, supercenters and dollar stores, according to Inmar Analytics. Traditional grocers lost 0.9 percentage points of market share to competitors last year, a trend that is expected to continue through the next several years.The profit-thin grocery industry is also shrinking: The number of supermarkets in the United States declined by 1.3% last year to under 25,000 as SuperValu, Southeastern Grocers and Tops shuttered stores. The number of supermarkets in the U.S. will decline by 6% in the next five years, Inmar Analytics predicted. Grocers such as Publix and H-E-B are competitive on price with national chains on common items and have popular private-label budget brands, analysts say. But prices are not the only factor that these grocers rely on to stand out.Wegmans and others try not to be "everything to everyone," like Kroger or Walmart, and instead invest in their core strengths, said Jon Springer, executive editor of Winsight Grocery Business, an industry trade publication. For Wegmans, that's fresh food and help with cooking at home. For Publix, it includes sub sandwiches. And Hy-Vee often focuses on health and wellness with clinics in some stores.These regional players are also savvy operators, analysts say. They have expanded carefully and avoided taking on debt, issues that have plagued many retail peers. All are privately held companies and do not have to answer to Wall Street every quarter. "They can invest strategically for the long-term, even if they stumble a few times in the near-term as they learn what works," said Diana Sheehan, director at Kantar Retail.Customer service stands out as a key advantage, according to experts. Some of these grocers are owned by employees"...
Kroger's 6th Ocado Warehouse Set for Wisconsin
SN: "Continuing the ramp-up of its omnichannel capabilities, The Kroger Co. plans to build an Ocado-powered automated warehouse in between Milwaukee and Chicago. Kroger said Thursday that the 350,000-sq.-ft. customer fulfillment center, its sixth with U.K.-based e-grocer Ocado, will be located in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., and fill online grocery orders for customers in Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. “This project expands Kroger’s commitment to continued investment in Wisconsin and Illinois. With this cutting-edge technology, Kroger is confident our partnership with Ocado will play an integral role in the continued commerce growth of this dynamic region,” Kroger Roundy’s President Michael Marx said in a statement. “This transformative fulfillment center will create local jobs and accelerate Kroger’s ability to expand our products and services to a larger footprint, providing customers with anything, anytime, anywhere." Kroger didn’t give a timeline for the groundbreaking at the Pleasant Prairie site but said the facility is slated to be up and running within 24 months thereafter"...
Store Fronts Next for Amazon?
SN: "AmazonFresh, Amazon’s perishables delivery service, shows promise as a store banner as the e-tail giant looks to build its physical grocery retail presence beyond Whole Foods Market, according to Packaged Facts.The Rockville, Md.-based market researcher said yesterday the recent addition of AmazonFresh to the Prime benefits package — essentially making grocery delivery a free service for members on orders of $35 or more (including via Prime Now and Prime Pantry) — signals more to come from Amazon in omnichannel grocery retailing.“Integrating AmazonFresh as a free benefit for Prime members is yet another masterstroke from an online giant whose growth continues unabated. This is more than just becoming one more spoke in the Amazon Prime loyalty flywheel,” Packaged Facts said in a report Tuesday. “The announcement increases the odds that the AmazonFresh brand will soon be displayed across physical storefronts, where Packaged Facts envisions that click-and-collect and home delivery will be offered for free to Prime members.” Industry buzz has continued about reported plans by Seattle-based Amazon to launch a supermarket chain separate from Whole Foods, acquired in 2017.News that Amazon had a new grocery store business in the works emerged in early March. At the time, the Wall Street Journal said Amazon was in talks to open stores at shopping centers in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and was mulling potential acquisitions of small grocery retail chains.Then in early October, the Journal reported that Amazon aims to open a chain of stores beginning in Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. Citing unnamed sources, the Journal said Amazon has signed more than a dozen leases in the Los Angeles area, starting with locations in Woodland Hills, Studio City and Irvine that could open by the end of this year. The stores would be part of dozens that Amazon plans to open nationwide. The retailer also is eyeing sites in metropolitan New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, including spaces of 20,000 to 40,000 square feet in shopping centers, the Journal said.Amazon has declined to comment on reports about planned grocery stores — until this week. On Monday, CNet said an Amazon spokesperson confirmed that the company plans to open a grocery store in Woodland Hills, Calif., in 2020 and the store would be different from Whole Foods. In its report, CNet said it was tipped off by Amazon job postings for openings at “a new Amazon grocery store in Woodland Hills.” The positions included zone leader, grocery associate (two jobs) and foodservice associate.“Whole Foods presents an ideal starting point for Amazon's foray into omnichannel grocery,” Packaged Facts said. “But for the same demographic reasons, expanding via another brand is necessary to broaden the target audience beyond Whole Foods' affluent shopper base and to avoid risking the dilution of the Whole Foods brand. Packaged Facts believes Amazon will move to expand its physical grocery presence using something other than the Whole Foods brand.”Previously, AmazonFresh delivery cost $14.99 per month on top of the $119 annual Prime membership. In part because of the added fee, expansion of AmazonFresh lagged that of Prime Now, Amazon’s same-day grocery delivery and pickup service, including through Whole Foods stores.“Behind the scenes, Amazon has clearly been trying to figure out how to balance AmazonFresh and Prime Now, its one- to two-hour delivery service,” Packaged Facts observed. “Since acquiring Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon seems to have given Prime Now more attention, leveraging the upscale natural and organic supermarket leader to build out its Prime Now footprint and put the service into high gear.”Fifty-eight percent Prime Now users said they are "very satisfied" with the service, and another 32% are “somewhat satisfied,” according to a Packaged Facts survey in its “Amazon Strategies and the Amazon Shopper” (2nd edition) report. And in 2019, about 14% of Whole Foods customers used an online grocery delivery service, roughly three times the percentage of all U.S. adults who do so, the researcher said.For the last two years, though, AmazonFresh “hasn't gotten as much love,” Packaged Facts noted, explaining that service availability “did not grow appreciably” and grocery product assortment fell below that of Prime Now. What’s more, use of AmazonFresh/Prime Pantry declined slightly in 2019, while use of online food/grocery ordering service surged 211% from 2014 to 2019, according to the research firm.In announcing the elimination of fees for AmazonFresh two weeks ago, Amazon said it now provides fresh grocery delivery in more than 2,000 cities and towns, with plans to expand delivery and pickup service to more areas. The e-tailer also said it has improved the delivery speed for AmazonFresh — with one- and two-hour options in most AmazonFresh cities — and Prime members can shop Whole Foods stores online via Amazon.com or the Amazon app.“Dropping monthly fees associated with AmazonFresh and instead making it a free benefit for Prime members is not just about re-energizing Amazon's online grocery service,” Packaged Facts said. “It suggests that Amazon intends to use the brand to grow beyond the limitations imposed by Whole Foods-Prime Now relationship.""
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE: