Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
10 June 2019
The (not-so) unique descent of Entertainment Weekly
It’s a predictable sign of the times that Entertainment Weekly stops publishing weekly and now becomes a monthly. People just don’t subscribe to magazines anymore, including myself.
But EW is an interesting and unique case. At least for me. I subscribed for many years, if you can believe it. Mostly because I liked its reviewers, and it was a meatier publication back then, which may surprise today’s readers.
But I sensed a shift when Entertainment Weekly laid off its star film critics, Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum, in 2014. EW wasn’t going to be a cultural tastemaker anymore. It was going to be People magazine.
And sure enough it did. Consider this. On EW’s website today are TV recaps, “must-see photos” and Anderson Cooper saying he forgot to tell his mother he was coming out as gay. People, also owned by Meredith Entertainment Group, also sports “must-see photos” plus gossip on Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian. What’s the difference between the two mags?
Entertainment Weekly traded in its brand power
As hard as it is to believe, Entertainment Weekly was once as important to the entertainment culture as Rolling Stone was to the music industry. EW even had book reviews! And its TV critic for a time was Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. It held a brand position.
“So where does the brand of Entertainment Weekly play that’s different and better than its competitors? It looks like it’s plopping into the morass of everything else mainstream. That’s a sure drop into irrelevancy and a long, painful death.”
But it gave it all away, chasing a limelight that so many other publications stand under. It went from dense to thin in seconds, covering only the most obvious blockbuster entertainment. So I never renewed, and haven’t looked back since.
JD Heyman, the former deputy editor at…People, now runs the new Entertainment Weekly.
Maybe there’s not a place for what EW was in today’s world. There’s many online outlets that produce what it was. But there’s even more that do what Entertainment Weekly does now. In fact, New York Magazine’s Vulture site probably straddles the line best today.
So where does EW’s brand play that’s different and better than its competitors? It looks like it’s plopping into the morass of everything else mainstream. That’s a sure drop into irrelevancy and a long, painful death.
Maybe its descent is not so unique.
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