August 5, 2013 Last Updated 8:31 am

Big brand name print (or former print) media properties go for pennies on the dollar; more magazine app updates

Morning Brief:

I know a magazine company owner who has been waiting for years to sell off their company to reap big profits. The problem is that as the years go by the value of those properties continues to shrink. As so this magazine exec has chosen to layoff staff, close unprofitable titles, outsource sales, editorial and production, and has stopped audited the titles. Not surprisingly, this does not have a positive impact on the value of the company. And so the inevitable sale is delayed further.

This weekend’s news that two well-known, even iconic, media properties were sold off for prices well below what they would have been valued a decade ago.

Globe-front-smThe Boston Globe was sold by The New York Times Company to John Henry, owner of the Red Sox, for $70 millions, far below the $1.1 billion price the Times paid for it in 1993. To dump the property, the NYT was required to hang onto the pension liabilities, an amount that is actually higher than the final sales price.

(The Globe this morning is reporting that the other bidders are none too happy about hearing that Henry won out, claiming that their bids were higher.)

Also sold this weekend was Newsweek. No sales price was announced, but unlike the NYT, the owners, International Business Times, need not fear that they have sold off the property for less than they originally paid – two years ago Newsweek was sold for $1 to Sidney Harman, who was 91 at the time. He died a year later.

The Globe is probably now in good hands. The NYT was less enthusiastic about the new digital platforms of mobile and tablets than the team at the Globe has been, and so stand a better chance of accomplishing some good in these areas. But the Globe seems to have inherited the Times paid content strategy which has resulted in precipitously falling ad revenue. The media gurus will be clamoring for a journalist to be installed as publisher, no doubt. But what is needed is someone who understands revenue, cost control, and digital media. I won’t hold by breath.

As for Newsweek, it might was well have been sold to Demand Media. IBT can be found in the news section of Google when almost anything is searched for, though as far as I can tell they produce no original reporting.

IBT is a digital-only media company, of course. And Newsweek is now digital-only, as well. What exactly IBT bought other than the brand name is a bit hard to tell.

“We are 100% digital with a track record of successfully growing online media properties,” Johnathan Davis, co-founder and chief content officer of IBT Media said. “The Newsweek brand is strong around the world and we believe there is significant potential to leverage that as well as enhance the editorial offering and continue to modernize the operations and approach. We are excited to add Newsweek to our portfolio of growing news brands and to pursuing the great opportunities ahead together.”

IBT’s other brands are Medical Daily, Latin Times and iDigitalTimes – all sites I’m sure you visit daily, right?

seo_cw_productEach year, just prior to the release of the new iOS, media app developers rush to update their apps in order to make sure they will function once the new mobile operating system is released by Apple. But this year Apple has warned developers that they should update their apps early and so the big publishers such as Hearst, Condé Nast and others have been busy submitting updates.

Both GQ, Glamour and Golf Digest have been updated by Condé Nast this weekend, though whether the updates are related to iOS 7 is hard to tell.

Future plc has also updated apps this last week, issuing updates for Games Master, Guitar Aficionado, Guitar World, Guitar Legends, and Revolver.

Also updated last week was the FutureFolio Viewer app, used to preview digital issues when using the FutureFolio platform. Obviously changes in the platform will usually mean the magazine apps will soon be updated, as well.

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