The chief complaint about Dick Parsons’ tenure at Time Warner (TWX): He is by all accounts a great guy, but not one who’s instilled a sense of urgency at the lumbering conglomerate. Today’s example: The continuing and inexplicable existence of Maghound.
What’s Maghound? Brian Wolfe, president of Time Consumer Marketing, describes it as the magazine industry’s answer to Amazon, NetFlix and iTunes, and that description alone ought to stop anyone dead in their tracks. Because magazine publishers already have their answer to that, and you’re using it to read this story right now.
Maghound is really a fantasy cooked up by publishers to prop up subscription revenues, presented in the guise of a consumer service: The idea is that subscribers will use the Web to order up flexible, mix and match magazine subscriptions. We don’t understand why that’s a good thing — the entire point of a subscription is that you like the publication and want to receive it regularly — but surely dispensing with renewal cards and the like must mean that subscribers get a discount, right? No. From AdAge:
The current plan calls for offering three magazines for $4.95 a month, five magazines for $7.95 a month or seven magazines for $9.95 a month — with about 20% of the available magazines priced at a premium. [Emphasis added]
Granted, we won’t know exactly how pricing works until we see the service, which is supposedly going to launch next year — four years after Time Inc. started working on it. Two years ago, they had gotten around to launching a website, which is useful if you’d like to see who was on the cover of Esquire in January 2005 (hint). Unclear as to what they’ve been up to since then, but it doesn’t matter. Please, Jeff Bewkes, or whoever fills Dick Parson’s shoes: Bury this thing immediately. AdAge
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