Folio – Caysey Welton: 2017 is ending with a bang in magazine media. Maybe even a metaphorical big bang, as the wave of consolidation this year is forecasting a future of change that is unprecedented for this industry. In other words, magazine media as we’ve known it for more than 100 years may never look the same after the Time Inc. and Meredith’s merger becomes official in 2018.
Time was founded by Henry Luce in 1922 and grew into a company that published some of the most prolific and successful titles in magazine media with Time, Sports Illustrated, Life and Fortune. It also launched its fair share of titles and acquired many that are still successful, like Southern Living. It became part of the larger conglomerate Time Warner in 1989 (also up for sale), but spun off and formed its own publicly traded company in 2014. Meredith, on the other hand, grew out of much simpler roots 20 years earlier in 1902, with Edwin Meredith’s launch of Successful Farming. From there, it too had a number of successful launches and acquisitions, and built out a very profitable network of local TV stations. For nearly 25 years straight the company has paid its shareholders a dividend, a feat that’s commendable.
While all of that history is interesting, what’s more significant is the potential impact this deal will have on the brands these companies own, as well as the industry as a whole. After all, this isn’t the first major acquisition this year in magazine media. Us Weekly was sold to AMI for $100 million, and then a few weeks later it also bought sister brand Men’s Journal from Wenner Media. Wenner Media isn’t done though; it’s also put its flagship brand Rolling Stone on the market and intends to sell off the remaining 51 percent it owns after moving 49 percent off last year to BandLab. But the even bigger transaction this year saw the sale of the 87-year-old Rodale to Hearst for an undisclosed sum. So with all this consolidation, we’d be remiss to not ask around to find out what all of this means, and where things might go from here.