BIZMOLOGY — Even before Variety changed ownership back in October, it was apparent that a transformation at the venerable Hollywood trade publication was inevitable. Now details have officially emerged: A revamped version of the 108-year-old weekly edition of Variety is making its debut this week.
While Variety will continue to focus on the inner workings of the entertainment industry, it will no longer do so through the publication of a daily print title. Instead, it is focusing its efforts on its weekly print title, which will provide stories with deeper analysis, and a redesigned website with more digital content that is now free to access.
Variety’s decision is the latest in an avalanche of deals reflecting a major trend for the publishing world: Digital content is king. Variety’s rival, The Hollywood Reporter (part of Prometheus Global Media‘s collection of business publications), stopped publishing its daily print edition in 2010 in favor of a glossy weekly magazine and a new website. After more than 80 years, Newsweek shut down its print title to go online-only in October 2012, and earlier that year Encylopedia Britannica, the oldest English-language encyclopedia publisher, ceased publication of its print edition.
Variety publisher Jay Penske hopes the move will boost its finances, as profits have shrunk in recent years. According to the Los Angeles Times, Variety made about $6 million last year, a significant decrease from the more than $30 million it made in 2006. In dropping the daily title, Variety recognized that the print product was delivering stories readers had already consumed on the website. Publisher Michelle Sobrino admitted, “Financially it didn’t make sense.”
While some may mourn the loss of a Hollywood institution, it may help to remember that the trade paper actually began as a weekly that had little to do with the movie business. Variety began in 1905 as a weekly title to cover Broadway and vaudeville. But as the motion picture industry became more important, in 1933 Variety added an LA edition and a daily edition to cover the motion picture industry. Just like vaudeville, a daily print publication may soon be a source of nostalgia.