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Meredith Corp on Magazine Consolidation

Tuesday, 7 Dec 2010 | 12:10 PM ET
Magazines
Magazines

Magazine consolidation is on the horizon, that's what Meredith Corp CEO Steve Lacy said in our exclusive interview at the UBS Media & Communications conference.

With Hearst in talks to buy Hachette's Magazines, like Elle and Premiere, I asked Lacy what that would do to the magazine landscape. He says he has his eye on some women's and men's health titles that would be a good fit with it's titles like 'Fitness." So what's it looking at? Some of Rodale's titles like "Men's Health" and "Women's Health."

Why consolidate now? Lacy says scale is more important than ever to attract the largest advertisers and to keep your costs under control. When will these deals take place? Sometime over the next 12 to 18 months.

Consolidation isn't the only change in store for the magazine industry — it's working hard to grow digital revenues from the iPad and other tablets. Meredith's in a unique situation: with titles like 'Parents' and 'Better Homes and Gardens,' its audience is predominately female. Lacy says he just doesn't know if women will want to look at a two-page color fashion spread on an eight inch monitor- that's yet to be determined. It seems it's harder to get women to switch their fashion and health mags to the digital format than it is to get men to read 'Wired' on the iPad. Lacy says he hopes to convince 15 percent of his female audience to subscribe to the digital edition of his magazines in the next few years — but that doesn't sound like very much.

The good news for 2011: advertising is back on track.

Lacy says that the dozen affiliates they own are benefiting from a record political season. And the magazines are seeing growth across the board — especially in categories like auto.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.