There was chatter in the blogosphere on Friday that Jann Wenner was looking to sell Rolling Stone to Conde Nast, but it was all but squashed by the perplexed look Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter gave Charlie Rose when Rose asked him about it earlier in the week. This weekend, though, the New York Post reported that Wenner is considering selling one of his titles to Conde Nast, but it’s US Weekly, not Rolling Stone.
NYP: Jann Wenner is said to be quietly exploring a sale of celebrity magazine Us Weekly to Condé Nast and the price tag could hit $750 million…
A Wenner Media spokesman dismissed the talk: “There are no talks. Wenner Media and its properties are not for sale.”
We hope this denial is partially true. US Weekly would be an odd addition to the Conde Nast empire. The company already has several magazines that cater to US Weekly’s young, female audience: Vogue, Glamour, Allure, Self, Lucky, so they don’t need another one. And promoting US Weekly would take attention away from Conde’s other female titles, which could lead to one or more of them folding (look what happened to Cargo after it was flooded out by Details, GQ and Men’s Vogue).
US would be Conde’s first foray into a weekly, and its focus on salacious gossip (recent headlines: “Heidi [Montag] Asks for a Ring: I’m Ready to Say ‘I Do'” and “Kate [Hudson]’s Revenge Rebound: Hot With Lance”) doesn’t fit with Conde’s upscale lifestyle focus.
Rolling Stone on the other hand, actually seems like it would be a good acquisition for Conde. It would provide a music/entertainment title, which is the one genre Conde doesn’t have a presence in. The company could easily scale back Rolling Stone’s bi-weekly frequency into a monthly. And Rolling Stone is not only iconic, it’s also probably the best-performing music magazine.
While Jeff Bercovici noted that RS’s ad pages have dropped 25 per cent so far this year. They’ve only dropped 19 per cent year-to-year, and both declines are far smaller than Blender’s 37 per cent year-to-year drop and 28 per cent year-to-date drop, according to Mediaweek. Spin’s ad pages, on the other hand, are surprisingly up both year-to-year and year-to-date, but one could say they had nowhere to go but up, and Spin still has far fewer ad pages this year than Rolling Stone.
What Wenner should really do is sell US Weekly and Men’s Journal to a struggling, smaller magazine publisher, like Alpha Media Group, run by Wenner’s former right-hand man Kent Brownridge, take the money from that sale and Rolling Stone, and go work for Conde Nast. There, Wenner could keep running Rolling Stone, his pet project, and he’d fit in nicely with Conde’s media celebs like Graydon Carter and Anna Wintour.
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