As someone who spent many years at HBO, I was pleased to see your recent post on how Game of Thrones embraces the mass intelligent and the bright future for high-quality media. Time Warner, the company I have the privilege of leading, strongly believes in this future and we’ve also been actively embracing the premise of this blog: that we are in the early days of a resurgence of mass consumption for media — both “lean back” and “lean forward”. We’ve been leading the evolution of television with HBO GO and with our Turner networks’ versions of what we call “TV Everywhere”, and we’re following this same principle at our publishing business, Time Inc. – and already seeing promising results.
The key for us is to stay true to our company’s original and core competency: great storytelling. One of the emerging opportunities we’re seeing in publishing is that our readers look to different platforms to access different kinds of stories at different times of day. This requires producing content with thinking that is not unlike how TV programmers cater to different day parts. Understanding these correlations between location, usage and device is an important part of accelerating the transition from print to digital. It’s one reason why Time Inc. was the first and only major magazine publisher to make all of its US titles available on tablets. We did this not only because it’s our duty as the largest publisher to drive the development of new business models, but also because we know our subscribers are nearly twice as likely to own a tablet or e-reader as the national average. And we’ve already found that 80 percent of consumers who read our magazines in both digital and print through what we call our “All Access” plan say they are more likely to renew their subscriptions because of their stronger connection to the brand.
In the United States, over 130 million people access Time Inc.’s print or digital content each month – and we know they want access to our brands whenever and wherever they want it. They may check Time.com during the day, sit down with FORTUNE in print on their lunch break, scan PEOPLE’s mobile site while waiting to pick up kids at school, or flip through InStyle’s tablet edition at night. Producing these products in a consistent and compelling way requires editors who are nimble and innovative, capable of generating long immersive feature stories, snackable content for mobile devices, or producing video for tablet editions. The proliferation of platforms has only deepened our story-telling expertise across all our brands.
If The Economist won’t mind me plugging a rival here, I’m very proud that TIME was just named Magazine of the Year by the American Society of Magazine Editors—in recognition of TIME’s journalism in both print and digital formats. We are long past hearing the trope that “newsmagazines are dying” in the digital age. Of course there are plenty of challenges that come with transitioning a business during a period of rapid change, and there is much more to be done. But the debate is far more nuanced than old-versus-new or print-versus-digital. It’s not always a zero sum game. What TIME, The Economist and other forward-thinking media brands are finding is that their relevance only grows when they harness technology to satisfy and deepen their connections with their audiences.