SOURCE: Flashes & Flames
How Meredith Upstaged Time Inc – and Everyone Else
Our Senior Advisor, Colin Morrison, has examined media companies from around the world and in his current blog, Flashes & Flames, he shares his insights into Meredith’s impressive rise in the magazine industry.
While the British were founding the BBC and jailing Mahatma Gandhi, 1922 became an eventful year in magazines. Reader’s Digest was launched. Henry Luce and Briton Hadden left their jobs at the Baltimore Daily News to launch Time magazine. More than a 1,000 miles away in Des Moines, Iowa, farming publisher Edwin Meredith launched Fruit, Garden and Home which – two years later – would become Better Homes & Gardens.
That was really the beginning of “The Magazine Century”, an era all but dominated by the successes and failures of Time Inc, the most famous publisher of all. From its long-time former headquarters in Manhattan’s Rockefeller Plaza, the company prospered through the launch of hugely successful weeklies including Fortune, Sports Illustrated, People, Entertainment Weekly and Time itself. For more than 70 years it was the aristocracy of magazines and also the pioneering developer of pay movie channel HBO. Then came the corporate drama.
It all started in 1990 with the Warner Communications merger. Ten years later, Time Warner rushed into a disastrous tech-frenzy merger with AOL. A year later, it splashed out $1.7bn for IPC Media in the UK. In 2014, Time Warner pushed Time Inc into an unwanted IPO. Meanwhile, in the American mid-west, Meredith Corporation was quietly building a diversified media group across magazines, TV and digital media. It was worlds away from Rockefeller Plaza.