With a new Bloomberg Businessweek that has twice as many stories and 20 percent more pages, leaders at the publication said they hoped to win back readers whom they say felt the magazine was no longer worth the money.
“I think the value proposition had been off, frankly,” said Josh Tyrangiel, Businessweek’s new editor. “If you’ve been a reader for the past couple of years, you see the paper’s getting thinner, there are a lot fewer stories. We want to make sure we’re giving readers value for their money.”
The first thing readers are likely to notice when they get the new issue, on stands April 23, is the bigger size of the Bloomberg name, which appeared in tiny print after Bloomberg LP bought the struggling Businessweek in December. It’s now equal in size to Businessweek.
A minor change below the logo that may go unnoticed is the issue date. From now on, it will correspond with the week that the issue is on newsstands.
“Everybody ... just wants clarity,” Tyrangiel explained. “We’re focused on that. It’s a minor tweak, but it just indicates our commitment to making sure people get what they want.”
Businessweek still faces huge hurdles. It reportedly lost between $60 million and $70 million in 2009, and Paul Bascobert, its new president, said the goal is to get to break-even in two years.
Bloomberg has already made significant staff cuts; Bascobert’s task ahead is growing the ad base. He’s counting on the redesign appealing to former clients who stopped advertising while the magazine figured out its new strategy, along with new ones. To that end, the redesign has five news sections that lend themselves to advertising adjacencies and a culture news section that, it’s hoped, will appeal to consumer and luxury advertisers.
For now, subscription price hikes won’t be part of the new-revenue mix, though. At $40 for 50 issues, or less than $1 per issue, Businessweek is one of the least expensive business magazines on a per-issue basis. Despite Bloomberg’s stated desire to charge more for the magazine, Bascobert said he wasn’t prepared to raise the subscription price.
“At this point, our research suggests the value proposition was broken,” he said. “Our intention is to improve the product, and if there’s an opportunity at some point in the future, we’ll look at pricing. What we heard loud and clear is, it’s getting thinner and thinner, and there are less reasons to open it.”
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