Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Time Inc. Droops Again

Time Warner took time to boast about HBO during its earnings call this morning. But it was harder to brag about its Time Inc. publishing unit, which had another lousy quarter: Revenue was down 9 percent, and operating income was down 43 percent.

The best thing Jeff Bewkes and company could say about Time Inc. is that the rest of the publishing business is doing lousy, too. And that new boss Laura Lang is getting a plan together after six months on the job. Oh, and they said that the numbers won’t look as bad next quarter, because they’ll be going up against easier year-over-year comparisons.

Still, the “environment here remains challenging,” CFO John Martin deadpanned.

Here’s a slightly deeper dive: Subscription revenues were down 11 percent, and ad revenues were down 7 percent. The ad numbers would have been worse if Time hadn’t retaken control of SI.com and Golf.com from corporate cousin Turner during the quarter — Martin said if you took away the bump those properties provided, ads would have been down 9 percent.

Lang can seek solace in the fact that digital ads in general fared better than print, which means they were about flat instead of drooping.

And Bewkes held out the idea that Time Inc. will increasingly be a digital company instead of a print one. Which is the reason he brought on Lang, the former head of digital ad shop Digitas, in the first place.

“It’s way too reductive to conclude that ‘publishing’ has a constrained future,” he said, touting the company’s recent iPad subscription deal with Apple.


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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo