We haven’t chatted with Tina Brown about this, but we might as well share our suspicion that one big motivating factor driving the Daily Beast-Newsweek merger was Tina’s desire to return to print.
And that’s fair.
And for a while, at least, it may be that the combination of print+online is the best way to rake in the bucks. (Don’t laugh–it’s working for Politico, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and any number of other hybrid publications.)
But in this particular case–BEASTWEEK–we are curious to see the assumptions involved.
Last we heard, the combined companies will lose $30 million this year. That’s $10 million from the Beast and $20 million from Newsweek.
At last look, Newsweek’s circulation and subscription revenue was collapsing, which will exacerbate the losses, at least in the near term.
So what will the combined BEASTWEEK look like?
Well, let’s assume that Barry Diller and Sidney Harman won’t mind losing some serious money for a while. (They’re doing it already–no sense in stopping now).
But let’s also assume that $30 million a year will be too much even for Barry and Sidney to stomach.
And let’s note that there is now lots of duplication in the editorial, sales, tech, and admin staffs.
So let’s assume that lots of folks are about to get canned.
The mass firings will probably cut the annual deficit to say $10-$15 million. And then it will be up to Tina and publisher Steven Colvin to close that gap.
How are they going to do it?
Newsweek still has a circulation of more than 1 million (if memory serves)–and it’s very mass market. So the first thing Tina and Steven will have to do is stop the decline. Then they’ll have to get it growing again. And, meanwhile, they’ll have to figure out how to make The Daily Beast’s sensibility fit with Newsweek’s.
Steven helped make The Week one of the only print publications to shoot the lights out in recent years, so don’t assume this is a crazy idea. But it’s also not a lay-up.
Would you pay for a printed weekly BEASTWEEK?
We wouldn’t. We’d just read it online. But then we’re not the target market.
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