Maclean’s Among Magazines Hit by Rogers Media Overhaul
Maclean’s newsmagazine, a weekly staple since the 1970s, is shifting to a monthly print schedule and some other familiar titles will disappear from news stands entirely, as Rogers Media scales back its publishing business amid declining readership and ad sales.
Three magazines will reduce their print frequency as of January. Maclean’s will be published once a month in print and weekly online, while Chatelaine and Today’s Parent will appear in print six times a year.
Flare, Sportsnet, MoneySense and Canadian Business will be available exclusively on the web and through apps, with new content posted daily. Hello! Canada will remain a weekly print publication.
“We are going where our audiences are and doubling down on digital to grow our consumer magazine brands,” said Rick Brace, president of Rogers Media.
“We have already made significant investments in creating content and making it available on digital platforms, including Texture, Sportsnet Now and Rogers NHL GameCentre Live.”
Janice Neil, chair of Ryerson’s School of Journalism, called the moves another sign of the “end of the Guttenberg era,” referring to the German publisher who is credited with introducing the printing press to Europe in the 1400s.
Although she said the digital shift is inevitable given the online reading habits of younger generations, she called it a shame for older people who are not as tech savvy.
Neil also noted that Maclean’s, a venerable publication with a loyal print readership, is being scaled back in frequency while glossy showbiz magazine Hello! Canada will remain in weekly print.
“I guess it’s just the new world order,” she said.
Rogers Media, a unit of Toronto-based Rogers Communications, said it will focus on its English-language consumer brands in five content areas: entertainment, lifestyle, parenting, sports and news and current affairs.
The media unit said in a statement that its Texture bundled-magazine digital service will match the print schedules, except for Maclean’s, which will run weekly.
Rogers also said it will divest itself of all business-to-business publications, along with French-language titles Châtelaine, Loulou and L’actualité.
“Recognizing these are storied brands that require dedicated attention to best serve the distinct French market, the company is going through a thoughtful process to find strong new ownership,” the Rogers statement said.
It pointed out the company has committed more than $35 million in capital and marketing spending to create and promote digital content and transition the business to a digital-first infrastructure.
“It’s been clear for some time now that Canadians are moving from print to digital, and our job is to keep pace with the changes our audiences are demanding,” said Steve Maich, senior vice-president of digital content and publishing at Rogers Media.
“We are so much more than a collection of magazine brands and we’ve seen rapid growth on our digital platforms over the past few years.”
He would not specify impacts on print-production and editorial staff, but suggested in an interview that editorial cuts would be minimal, as writers, editors and visual journalists continue to pivot to online platforms.
Maich added that Rogers believes it has struck the right balance between digital and print, noting that its publishing arm has seen a 30-per-cent plunge in print ad revenue compared to a year ago.
Although print readership has declined gradually, advertising dedicated to Canadian magazines has fallen more rapidly, he said.
The collapse in print advertising has been afflicting magazines and newspapers for several years, resulting in moves to digital-only editions for some publications and job cuts across the sector.
Still, Maich said he is “bracing” for feedback from readers of Maclean’s, which has been published weekly since the late 1970s.
The magazine had a 2013 weekly paid circulation of more than 313,000, according to industry group the Alliance for Audited Media, which shows the current tally at 225,963. The group said Chatelaine had a 505,760 paid circulation in 2010 and 451,222 this year.
Rogers, meanwhile, said digital consumer revenue for its magazine brands is outpacing newsstand sales by 50 per cent. The company said its magazine brands had a combined digital reach of 3.8 million Canadians per month for the first half of 2016, up 30 per cent year over year.
The parent company has been on a cost-cutting and efficiency campaign under chief executive Guy Laurence, which saw Rogers Media trim its workforce by 4 per cent or 200 jobs in television, radio, publishing and administration at the start of the year.
One of Canada’s largest telecom and media companies, Rogers is focused on reducing debt after suspending an expected dividend increase amid a pullback in conventional cable TV, as viewers move to online streaming.
On Monday, Rogers announced it will shut down its video streaming on-demand service Shomi at the end of November, two years after its launch into a market dominated by U.S.-based Netflix.
A spokesman declined to detail any job impacts of the shutdown, suggesting Shomi boasts a “small but great team and we’ll be looking to see what openings we have in related departments within Rogers.”