Time Warner apparently really wanted to get rid of its ailing magazines. The company has ended talks to sell its mainly women-oriented publications to Meredith Corp because Meredith didn’t want to take on the flagship titles Time, Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated, according to the New York Times. Instead Time Warner has announced that it will spin off its entire print unit, Time Inc, as a separate business.
A sale would have been a more profitable option. But Meredith, which includes Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal, only wanted Time Warner’s People, InStyle, Real Simple, and other women’s magazines that attract a lot of advertisers.
Time Warner had considered spinning Time and the other unwanted publications off after selling the women’s magazines to Meredith, people familiar with the matter said. But it would be difficult for those four magazines to survive on their own; they need the insulation of money-makers like People and others. The only way to make them attractive to a buyer would have been to lump them with the advertising-heavy People, InStyle and others—and even that wasn’t attractive enough for Meredith.
So Time Warner has decided that all of the magazines will sink or swim together. That’s good news for Time, at least for now; but for People and the other names involved in the now dead Meredith deal, it could feel like they are having their nose cut off to spite their face.