Call it a case of fortuitous timing: as the nation’s unemployment rate approaches historic levels and Americans brace for the second major economic downturn in a decade, Meredith Corp. announced this week that it just so happens to have a new personal-finance-focused print and digital magazine ready for launch after months of quiet preparation behind the scenes.
Edited by VP and editorial director Diane di Costanzo and executive editor Catey Hill, who joined Meredith this month from MarketWatch, one-million copies of the first quarterly issue of Millie are being mailed out to subscribers to Real Simple this week, bundled with that magazine’s May issue. Millie‘s social and digital channels are expected to go live this month as well.
Targeted toward women of all ages and addressing “all aspects of personal finance,” Millie has already landed an exclusive launch partner in Synchrony Financial, a consumer financial services company specializing in private-label credit cards and online banking.
“We believe Millie will strongly resonate with our Real Simple audience, because Real Simple is focused on making women’s busy and increasingly stressful lives easier and more meaningful,” di Costanzo tells Folio:. “The driving principles of Real Simple—inspirational ideas and practical solutions to help simplify women’s lives—align with the Millie brand and they do so now more than ever. It’s also important to note that the Real Simple reader has a household income north of $100K and is interested in personal finance.”
Di Costanzo adds that quarterly issues of Millie will continue to be sent to Real Simple subscribers “for the first year or so,” but that Meredith will monitor feedback from readers and plans to eventually operate it as a standalone product.
“As the pandemic spreads throughout the country and Americans are adapting to the evolving economic circumstances, Millie‘s purpose takes on greater meaning as women look for financial advice and solutions for themselves and their family,” added Catherine Levene, president of Meredith Digital, in a statement. “As a company that serves women at every stage of their lives, we’re even more committed to providing this kind of information. We also appreciate the support of Synchrony, a company that has demonstrated their passion for empowering women from diverse backgrounds to control their financial futures.”
The launch of Millie comes just a few months after Meredith sold off Money—the personal finance magazine it acquired through its 2018 merger with Time Inc.—to Ad Practitioners, LLC, following the closure of Money‘s print edition earlier last year.
Separately, the COVID-19 pandemic has failed to disrupt the launch of another Meredith magazine. A new quarterly publication helmed by celebrity cook Ayesha Curry is still slated to hit newsstands—those that remain open, that is—in May. This week, Curry posted a “The Devil Wears Prada”-inspired Instagram video revealing the forthcoming magazine’s title: Sweet July.
“Why? Well, all three of our babies were born in July, we got married in July and it’s the 7th month in the calendar year,” Curry explained. “It’s the time in my life where I find I have the most joy and excitement. I wanted to carry that through everyday and simply honor and find gratitude in the big and the small moments.”
Two New Launches at Penske Media
Penske Media Corp. is getting into sports. The parent company of Rolling Stone, Variety and WWD, among others, announced this week the launch of an additional brand, Sportico, a digital vertical covering the business of sports, which chairman and CEO Jay Penske says will complement the company’s existing brands serving the entertainment, fashion, music and media sectors.
Led by president and CEO Dick Glover, who previously held executive roles at FunnyOrDie.com, NASCAR, ESPN and World Wrestling Entertainment, as well as editor-in-chief and head of content Scott Soshnick, a former longtime sports business reporter at Bloomberg, Sportico will officially launch at some point this summer, though no official date has been announced.
“It is a privilege to join Dick and the Penske team to launch a dynamic platform like Sportico,” said Soshnick in a statement. “With our commitment to hiring the world’s best and most established content creators who will offer first class journalism, unique insight, and breaking news, the product will undoubtedly differentiate itself as a dependable and authoritative sports business news source.”
Elsewhere at Penske, Variety announced the launch of a new paid subscription product for entertainment industry executives: the Variety Intelligence Platform (VIP). Priced at $39.99/month or $399.99/year, Variety says a VIP subscription includes a dedicated, weekly email newsletter, monthly deep-dive special reports and “frequent provocative commentary,” as well as exclusive videos and slide decks.
In an announcement, the company emphasized that the news is not tantamount to Variety.com implementing a digital paywall; Variety‘s regular content will continue to be freely accessible, with a separate team producing content for VIP as a standalone product.
“What you’ll notice about our special reports will also be evident on a more frequent basis via opinion-driven articles we’ll often publish to help understand industry news,” says Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein. “Our aim is to examine the latest developments with a critical eye, either applauding shrewd decisions or panning ill-advised strategic moves.”
Trade Show M&A Grinds to a Halt
As the COVID-19 pandemic forces mass cancellations and postponements in the live events space, it’s also precipitated a virtual standstill in mergers and acquisitions activity, following a relatively active start to the year in January and February.
The Connecticut-based M&A firm Corporate Solutions, which specializes in trade shows and B2B publications, reported just one acquisition in the trade show space in March, Diversified Communications’ purchase of the Energy Storage North America Expo, announced on March 17th.
“The trade show market is weak as we navigate through the coronavirus impact on the entire event industry. This is the first time in 10 years that I have made this statement,” writes Corporate Solutions president Nick Curci. “I have never before seen the M&A market evaporate virtually overnight other than on 9/11. As bad as that disaster was for all and specifically on trade show M&A, the market stalled for a year and then slowly recovered over the next two years.”
Curci predicts that the current market conditions will delay most transactions until large gatherings are able to resume, but that demand will eventually return to normal levels.
“At this specific time, there are few interested sellers and very few buyers other than some that are seeking distressed opportunities,” he adds. “The demand for individual business publications continues to be soft overall although there are some buyers searching for titles in specific markets that also have significant digital and data revenues.”