In the end, TV Guide became a victim of the very industry it championed.
With online grids and on-air program guides (including its own) offering up comprehensive listings for all 500-odd channels out there, TV Guide found it tougher to compete in the arena it originated more than 50 years ago. This week, the magazine, which has been cutting back on listings for years, goes one step further: dropping more than 150 editions in favor for two national ones.
“With the ubiquity of information out there, we came to the conclusion that we should create a full-size, full-color magazine that no longer tried to put into print something that can be comprehensively found elsewhere,” says TV Guide exec editor Steve Sonski. “It enabled us to devote more resources to front of the book.”
Newspapers have also been cutting back on listings in recent years, particularly in their daily editions.
The new TV Guide will still list offerings from broadcast webs and cable nets, but affils and indie stations will lose out. TV Guide and local stations once enjoyed a quid-pro-quo relationship: Stations ran spots heralding the mag, which in turn printed free ads promoting their shows.
That relationship ended in the 1980s; these days, station execs say viewers aren’t using print listings to find their shows.
“TV Guide ending their listings will have no impact on us, and I assume they figured that out themselves,” says one L.A. station exec. “People figured out that there are more advanced ways to get that info than a book that’s put together three weeks in advance.”