Bloomberg News

Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated Cuts Staff Through Buyouts

June 16, 2012

Time Inc. plans to cut editorial jobs at Sports Illustrated through voluntary buyouts and may eliminate some positions if not enough people take an exit package.

Terry McDonell, editor of Time Inc.’s Sports Group, said in a telephone interview yesterday that he is looking to reduce positions of editors and reporters with buyouts being offered through June 21.

“Everything is about money eventually and being more efficient,” he said. Although Sports Illustrated, which has 210 editorial employees, is “very profitable,” the reductions will allow the magazine to become even more so, he said.

McDonell said the decision to cut staff came from within the Sports Group, which is led by Mark Ford.

Time Inc., also publisher of Time, People, Entertainment Weekly and InStyle, has struggled to offset shrinking print revenue with Internet advertising. Publishing accounts for 9 percent of parent company Time Warner Inc. (TWX:US)’s annual operating income. The division’s sales have fallen 26 percent since the recession began in 2007, to $3.68 billion last year.

Laura Lang, chief executive officer of Time Inc., is working to revive growth amid intensifying online competition. She was hired in November from digital ad agency Digitas, following a nine-month search to replace the previous chief, Jack Griffin. Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes had fired Griffin after he clashed with other Time Inc. executives.

Lang hired Bain & Co. in March to advise on increasing revenue at the ailing magazine unit.

Ad Pages

Sports Illustrated’s circulation was 3.18 million in December, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. In the first five months of the year, the sports title’s ad pages have dropped 4 percent compared to the same period a year ago, according to Media Industry Newsletter. Sports readers are increasingly moving to digital publications like Deadspin, published by Gawker Media, as well as Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN cable network.

“You have to change,” McDonell said. “That’s the lesson we’ve seen all across publishing.”

Time Warner gained 2.8 percent to $36.42 at the close in New York yesterday. The shares have risen less than one percent this year.

The New York Times earlier reported the staff cuts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Edmund Lee in New York at elee310@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net


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