September 15, 2015 Last Updated 6:52 am

MSG to spin-off its media division

Morning Brief: Citygram Austin updates its digital magazine app, launching a redesign to a grid style as it begins to use the new Adobe Digital Publishing Solution

The biggest trend in media is the spin-off, with such major media brands such as News Corp, Tribune Company, Gannett and others splitting into two companies – one print, the other usually broadcast – so that print will not weigh down the overall company. Many of these spin-offs have place the print unit at a distinct disadvantage by making the new company sign long-term agreements for digital services from the new broadcast company, or loading the new print company up with debt. It has been an ugly, cynical trend.

MSG-300Now comes word of a spin-off of a different kind: The Madison Square Garden Company said late last week that it would be spinning off its media business from its sports and entertainment business, with the new media company called MSG Networks Inc. (and the sports business retaining the old corporate name).

“We are now one step closer toward our goal of creating two distinct, focused companies for investors,” Doc O’Connor, president and CEO of MSG said. “The live sports and entertainment company will comprise a portfolio of celebrated venues, legendary sports teams and exclusive entertainment productions, while the media company will continue to own and operate award-winning regional networks that deliver compelling sports and entertainment content.”

Unlike the spin-offs mentioned above, this one is not all about dumping print. But like the other media spin-offs, one can be sure that it will be a lucrative deal for the executives, lawyers and accountants involved – the other, unspoken, reason why spin-offs are so popular.

Following the spin-off, which will be completed by the end of September, Andrea Greenberg will become president and CEO of MSG Networks Inc., while the CFO role will be taken by Bret Richter who comes in from Cablevision Systems Corporation. Greenberg has been executive vice president of MSG Media, the media division inside The Madison Square Garden Company.

There are so few publishing companies recruiting these days – one reason TNM keeps going on and on, I suppose – that it is good to point out a new position being advertised. has a recruitment ad for Editor – Digital B2B Magazines at Progressive Digital Media. The ad says the successful candidate should have “a strong grasp of the English language” – so if you can read this you probably should apply. The ad also says it would be nice if you had some Adobe CS skills, though I believe that when Progressive Digital Media talks about digital editions they mean the web only, not digital edition apps (I searched for their titles in the App Store and came up empty.

Be aware, however, that the email address listed on the website has a typo in it.

Another reason for mentioning the job opening is that the way I found it got me thinking a bit. I did not find it searching a job website or by scrolling through job ads in a directory on some media site. Instead I found it inside Google News.

By running the ad as a story, rather than a listing, the ad could be picked up by search engines; and if the website is a recognized Google News publisher – as TNM is – then the recruitment ad could be picked up by Google News.

Light bulb moment.

The book publishing industry is seeing a rather dramatic shift from traditional publisher sales to independent sales, driven mostly by the share of market being taken by indie self-published and Amazon imprint books, according to the AuthorEarnings website. In an extension report, the website says that what it is seeing is a “collapse” of sales from traditional publishers, the so-called Big Five of Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette.

The report tracks not only the growth of sales at places like Amazon, but the share of sales at the online retailer due to sales of eBooks published by traditional publishers. In other words, while book sales appear rather flat overall, who is selling books has shifted – from Association of American Publishers members to independent authors.

A couple interesting media app updates to report on:

Citygram-AustinCitygram Austin has updated its digital magazine app. The update brings in a new look that I am quite sure is the result of moving from the old Adobe DPS to the new Adobe Digital Publishing Solution.

“See the all new Citygram!” the app descriptions says. “Redesigned with a new grid system that gives you access to every article and feature we’ve ever published. Now it’s even easier to find the best of local.”

The update, which brings the app up to version 3.0, also brings in a new color for the icon (yes, I notice those things).

Citygram, if you are unfamiliar with the title, is a digital-only city magazine, founded by Chris Perez. I have featured the title many times here, and also included my interview with Perez in Talking Digital (iBooks interactive eBook edition, Amazon print and Kindle edition).

The publisher was an early advocate of digital magazines, and has over the past year or so started offering agency services to other independent publishers (see story on their agency efforts here).

The New York Times has updated both its iPad and iPhone Newsstand apps. Neither app probably should ever have been placed inside the Newsstand as they are both standard news apps, but the NYT always seemed to think Apple knew best.

The iPhone app, the name of which is now NYTimes – Breaking National & World News has added “a beautiful new Times Video section.” But I updated the app and all I see is an empty section with no content. It is possible that the update made it through Apple App Store review team and was released to the surprise of the NYT’s development team.

Another explanation may be that the section is not working on my iPhone because I updated it to iOS 9 yesterday and this is a bug. I’ll check again later this morning to see if things change. Right now the NYT’s development team may still be on the train to work – I can imagine them seeing the update and texting each other with the news.

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