Since 2003, Revenue Down For All Papers But The Smallest

A new study reemphasizes that in the troubled newspaper industry small and large circulation dailies have gone in different directions. The Inland Press Association says that of the more than 120 papers whose confidential financial data it analyzed, none of the papers with a circulation of over 50,000 have been able to increase their profits over the last five years. By contrast, 19 papers with circulations under that level boosted their profits during the period (Ten of those papers had circulations under 15,000). No word on whether any were flat. As for revenues, only the under 15,000-circulation category managed to eek out any increase in revenue since 2003. Another positive indicator for small papers: On average, classified sales were actually up.

The group says that overall most papers still managed to post profit margins of between 8.5 percent to 13.6 percent of revenue—which the Inland Press Assocation’s Ray Carlsen says is “encouraging,” adding that “it means that newspapers are still a good business when compared to the results of other industries.” Over at the Reflections of a Newsosaur blog, Alan Mutter emphasizes that those figures represent the average profits over the last five years. Thus, it’s likely that average margins for most papers are lower than that now—and rapidly declining. As noted yesterday, for instance, The Tribune Company is still making money but has seen its profits fall significantly over the last six months. (Mutter says that the Inland Press Association won’t give out the figures for 2008).


Industry Moves: Kliger Joins TV Guide As Interim CEO; Can He Save It?

In a surprise move, TV Guide magazine, now owned by PE firm OpenGate Capital, has appointed former Hachette CEO and magazine industry vet Jack Kliger as the interim CEO and senior adviser to the company. This comes as the troubled mag tries to revive itself and the format. This fills the spot left empty when former CEO Scott Crystal left in a huff in May, accusing the PE bosses of mishandling the magazine and raiding its assets. Kliger left the struggling Hachette about a year ago, which now has Elle, Woman’s Day, Metropolitan Home and three auto and motorcycling publications left in its stable; last month it sold some titles to Bonnier.

Kliger, 63, has a tough task, and besides the declining print, doesn’t have much to work with.

Since earlier this year, the magazine has cut staff, trimmed its rate base 9.4 percent to 2.9 million from 3.2 million, and reduced its frequency to six fewer issues this year, for a total of 40. The magazine recently launched its website in beta at TVguidemagazine.com, with news and info on the TV shows, but will have a tough time competing with tons of other competition out there, and may be hurt by the confusion over TVGuide.com similarly named site.

The TVG TV network and the TVGuide.com network of sites was sold separately to Lionsgate earlier this year; the movie studio later brought in former bidder One Equity as a part owner.

According to OpenGate CEO Andrew Nikou, the PE firm “continues to expand into media, and as the company furthers its success with publications like TV Guide magazine, Jack’s guidance on media and expansion strategies will be a tremendous asset to us.” Reading between the lines, this likely means it will buy more troubled publishing assets. Hollywood Reporter, anyone? The entertainment trade has been hammered over the last year by layoffs and circulation declines, and rumors of print closure have been surfacing recently, though my sources say nothing is planned for the rest of this year at least. It could fit well with OpenGate’s philosophy of picking up distressed legacy properties, if Nielsen Business Media wants to sell it off separately.


Updated: 6,000 Facebook Status Updates Per Minute During Jackson Memorial

Updated: The Michael Jackson memorial service has come and gone, and some of the preliminary stats on online viewing, streaming and social media activity have come in.

First up is Facebook, which reports that roughly one million users tuned in through its Live Stream box across CNN, E! Online, MTV and ABC News. They posted a total of about 800,000 status updates during the memorial, with a peak of approximately 6,000 status updates per minute

Stats from MSNBC, Ustream, Akamai and the full Facebook breakdown after the jump.

MSNBC: 3 million live streams; 7 million uniques and 82 million page views by 2pm PDT

Ustream: 4.6 million total streams worldwide; 1.6 million unique visits; 12,000 messages sent in chat rooms per minute

Akamai: Over 2.7 million people were tuned into various memorial streams at noon PDT (per ZDNet); that’s still pale in comparison to the 7.7 million concurrent streams tracked during the Obama inauguration—but the full day stats aren’t out yet.

Facebook/CNN: 759,000 streams; 733,000 status updates

Facebook/ABC: 97,000 streams; 48,000 status updates

Facebook/E! Online: 87,000 streams; 9,000 status updates

Facebook/MTV: 21,000 streams; 5,000 status updates


Analyst: Google Bests Bing For Relevance

Citigroup tested 200 of the most common queries to determine which major search engine delivers what it considers to be the most relevant results and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) won by a wide margin. From the report released Tuesday: 71 percent of the time a Google search brought up the most relevant results or brought up results as relevant as the competition, compared to 49 percent for Bing, and 30 percent for Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). But analyst Mark Mahaney says there is no need at all for Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) to despair: “We view our study as generally validating the positive Bing reviews ... but also demonstrating Google’s very strong position,” he says.

Indeed, Microsoft has said that with its relaunched search engine the company is actually focusing on four core areas—travel, health, local and shopping. And, in two of those areas—health and travel—Citigroup says that Microsoft usually returns results that are more relevant than its rivals (The investment bank does not look at shopping). That’s certainly an indication that Microsoft’s attempt to position itself as a “decision engine” around those areas is working.

It’s also worth noting that “relevance” is difficult to define. What may be the most relevant result to Citigroup researchers may not actually be the most relevant result to another searcher. Citigroup says it picked winners for each of its queries based on “relevancy of the organic search results” as well as the “robustness of the search experience, which included factors such as image and video inclusion, Search Assist, and Site Breakout.” That sounds very subjective.

For its part, Microsoft has unsurprisingly insisted that its own metrics show that its search engine produces results as relevant as Google’s.