Sunday, November 18, 2007

Headache for publishers as men ditch mags for Web

Headache for publishers as men ditch mags for Web
By Gavin Haycock

BARCELONA, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Leading European publishers are coming to terms with what teenage boys and men have known for years -- the Web beats magazines in grabbing their eyeballs.

Magazine publishers such as London-based media group Emap , Germany's Axel Springer and France's Lagardere have seen a split growing in their magazine assets -- those for women are surging while men's magazines droop.

"They are a casualty of the Internet. That is for sure," Dominique D'Hinnin, Chief Financial Officer of French media group Lagardere told investors at a Morgan Stanley technology, media and telecoms conference on Thursday.

"It is men's magazines that I am talking about, magazines with women with not too many clothes," he said.

Steffan Naumann, chief operating officer and chief financial officer at Axel Springer said segments such as those catering for women are growing, "but in Germany, certainly not the men's market category".

On Tuesday, London-based Emap said first-half underlying revenue in its consumer magazines division fell 6 percent.

However, this masked a strong performance by its women's weekly titles such as Grazia, Heat and Closer which grew 6 percent. Emap blamed a 14 percent slump in its portfolio of monthly magazines on weakness in men's titles.

D'Hinnin said publishers like Lagardere were dealing with the trend by shifting their investment plans and looking at Internet options.

Lagardere has pulled back from new launches outside of emerging markets while investing in places like China and Russia where magazine growth rates can be 30 percent, he said.

It means that although men's magazines can and do still make money, publishers also have to decide if they should sell assets or reposition themselves in digital media by building Web sites that primarily focus on content such as fishing, golf and cars.

D'Hinnin said Lagardere was currently considering such options within declining segments of the male-focused magazine market -- such as those with scantily clad women.

"We think it was killed by YouTube where you can find thi