Time Inc. Mulls Health Portal


As part of her mandate to maintain growth and move online, CEO Ann Moore will likely announce a Web-only health portal

If all goes well with focus group results that Time Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ann Moore will review at the end of this week, the next major launch from the world's largest magazine company could be a Web-only health and wellness portal.

The site would likely go up at the health.com URL the company owns through its Birmingham (Ala.)-based magazine Health. It would be a slightly unusual move for Time Inc. in that the proposed Web site will pull together material from other Time Warner (TWX) brands (Moore mentioned the potential involvement of CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta), although Time Inc.'s business magazines are joined together with CNN at the company's CNNMoney.com site. Time Inc. Executive Editor Scott Mowbray is among those currently working on the site.

The health portal will face a crowded field, with competition from sites such as WebMD Health (WBMD) and online commerce companies such as Drugstore.com (DSCM). This month, Steve Case, co-founder of America Online and former chairman at Time Warner, gave a preview of his own health-care Web site, called Revolution Health.

Layoffs Won't Stop Launches

In an interview following a keynote address to a Software Information Industry of America conference, Moore said the portal will be aimed primarily at a female audience, as they're typically the "gatekeepers" to family health-care decisions. In her remarks to the SIIA, Moore pointed out that advertising categories generally aimed at women, such as beauty products, have also held up better for Time Inc. and the magazine industry in general than male-skewing segments such as technology and domestic automobiles.

Tough times during Moore's tenure have resulted in rounds of layoffs, most recently this month, and have severely crimped available funds for new launches, say executives within the company. Still, Moore says she's looking at seven potential new initiatives for the company, though she wouldn't identify the others.

Time Inc. is also working on a potential partnership between Google (GOOG) and its own Life magazine, which will involve access to Life's fabled photo archives—although such a deal, if consummated, won't be made final until later this year. (This potential alliance isn't one of the seven new initiatives Moore referred to.)

Under Moore, Time Inc. is embarking on the tricky course of maintaining Time Warner-mandated growth rates while building out online platforms for major brands such as People. Agreements formerly set up by Moore put the online arms for key properties including People and Entertainment Weekly behind the "wall" of corporate sibling America Online, in exchange for royalty payments.

Fine is BusinessWeek's MediaCentric columnist and Fine On Media blogger .

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