Why all the bidders for BusinessWeek?

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KAI RYSSDAL: After a lot of hemming and hawing, it looks like Bloomberg, the business news service, will indeed make a bid to buy BusinessWeek, the magazine. McGraw-Hill put the magazine up for sale a couple of months ago and it has generated a lot of interest. Which is funny, 'cause isn't print media dying?

Marketplace's Stacey Vanek-Smith reports.


Stacey Vanek-Smith: In the first half of this year, BusinessWeek's ad pages were down by nearly 37 percent. Ads were way down at other magazines, too. That is, the ones that are still standing.

Even so, there are nearly a dozen interested buyers sniffing around BusinessWeek. There's Bloomberg, there's the owner of New York Magazine, the owner of Fast Company and a slew of private equity groups.

Ken Doctor: This is recovery economics.

Media analyst Ken Doctor says BusinessWeek might be losing money now, but the brand is in a good position to grab a big chunk of the $24 billion online advertising market.

Doctor: Business advertising online often fetches three, four, five times as much as general news and so it can be a lucrative category, especially in a recovery.

BusinessWeek offers advertisers an attractive audience, one that's affluent, educated and influential says Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at the City University of New York. He says Business Week's niche also gives it an advantage as more media move online.

Jeff Jarvis: On the one hand, weekly magazines are in dire trouble. Time and Newsweek, as general interest publications, aren't really needed anymore in the age of the Internet, when we can find out anything we want, any time we want. The BusinessWeek brand is just focused enough to be very valuable.

Maybe not as valuable as it once was. Ten years ago, BusinessWeek pulled in more than 1$00 million. This year? It's expected to lose about $40 million. McGraw-Hill hasn't said what it hopes to get for the magazine. Bids have to be in by Tuesday.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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