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Women's Bodybuilding Megan Avalon

Monday, May 22, 2006

NPC's "Anti - Internet" Rule Hurts Sponsorship Value

The National Physique Committee (NPC) is a private organization that hosts national bodybuilding events.

A little known rule established by the NPC reads:

"As you are aware, the NPC has had a standing press pass policy for all national events that only authorized members of formal press organizations are eligible for complimentary press credentials. For example, FLEX Magazine presents the NPC, prior to each national event, a list of their assigned photographers and writers committed to cover the particular event. Coverage of the event under those auspices is granted to the NPC.

We do not allow freelance photographers and writers, regardless of their notoriety, press entrance to our events where they shoot photographs or write copy and then submit them to various publications on a prospective sale basis. In other words, maybe they get published and maybe they don't.

In accordance with that philosophy and understanding the growth of the Internet as an information vehicle, the NPC is adopting the same policy modified for the Internet. Beginning immediately at all NPC events, the NPC will recognize only photographers or writers whose credentials are verified by website’s that are extensions of the normal bodybuilding and fitness print publications -- websites that represent FLEX, MUSCLE & FITNESS, IRONMAN, etc. The NPC will no longer recognize websites or individual photographers or writers or interested bodybuilding fans who maintain and promote website's, no matter the level of traffic."

In other words, the NPC is willing to reduce sponsorship value just to protect a set of offline magazines who's readership levels are decreasing because of the Internet. This is even hurting news magazines, like Time and Newsweek, as the link -- and the article reprinted below in case the link dies, will show:

Readers: Newsweeklies'
coming woe

See shakeout with the weakest disappearing

By Gene Ely
Oct 31, 2005 -- Medialife Magazine

Media people have debated for decades the relevance and fate of the newsweeklies, even as they hung on as other mass-market titles stumbled and died. Somehow Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report kept vital against the explosion of competing media.

The question is, how much longer can they remain vital? The answer is, not much.

That's the outcome of a recent Media Life poll of media planners and buyers.

The newsweeklies have been hurt most by the internet, and readers predict that one of the three big U.S. titles will disappear. That would appear to be U.S. News, the longstanding No. 3 title owned by real estate mogul Mort Zuckerman.

U.S. News is the smallest of the three in circulation, the weakest in ad pages, and has the least going for it in terms of strength of brand and quality of editorial, according to the Media Life poll. Recently the magazine has undergone yet another round of budget cuts, leading to more layoffs, as part of a strategy to shift its editorial emphasis online.

Over recent years, certainly since the ad recession that set in in late 2000, the newsweeklies have been confronted by a fundamental change in how ad pages are bought. There was once a time when many advertisers were inclined to buy all three titles. Fewer now do. Rather, they buy one or perhaps two, often pitting all three against one another to get the best deal.

At the same time, and not helping matters any, the internet has had a huge effect on the relevance of the newsweeklies as editorial propositions. That's one of the most profound findings of the Media Life survey.

Readers were asked: "In terms of readership, what is the greatest source of competition for newsweeklies?"

A full 71.4 percent agreed with the statement: "The internet. On-demand news trumps week-old old news any day." After that, a distant No. 2, 17.8 percent credited television, specifically the 24-hour cable news networks.

Just how much has the internet hurt the newsweeklies? Readers were somewhat divided. The largest share, 49.5 percent, agreed with the statement: "A lot. The magazines seem dated the moment they come off the presses, and any scoops they may have are usually leaked early. In fact, the magazines’ own web sites have become their own worst enemy, posting stories before the print version is released."

But almost as many, 40.8 percent, believe that while there's been damage, it has not made the newsweeklies obsolete. They agreed with the statement: "Some but not as much as you’d think. Though you can’t beat the internet for breaking news, the quality of the analysis and features in the newsweeklies keep people reading."

And of course that raises the question of how effective the newsweeklies still are as advertising vehicles. The answer, not surprisingly, is less effective.

Readers were asked: "How valuable are newsweeklies as advertising vehicles now compared with five years ago?"

A fifth agreed that they were still very valuable for reaching a mass audience.

But a far larger share, 62 percent, said that they were less so, agreeing with the statement: "Somewhat valuable. Circulation isn't what it used to be, but they’re still a smart buy when you need mass reach, and you need to do it on short notice."

Almost 18 percent agreed they offered no value to advertisers.

There was far more agreement that a shakeout among the big three titles was coming. Readers were asked: "Is there enough room in the category for three major U.S. newsweeklies?"

More than 70 percent think not, agreeing with this statement: "No. I think there’s a shakeout coming. We’ve already seen some retreat from U.S. News, and I can’t see all three surviving in this advertising environment."

The remainder believe advertising will return and that all three titles will survive after making adjustments to their editorial content.

Of the three magazines, Newsweek comes out as the magazine with the best editorial, just slightly ahead of Time, at 37.9 percent versus 36.8 percent. U.S. News was picked by 25.3 percent of respondents.

When it came to strongest brand, however, the race wasn't even close. Time came out way ahead at 81.3 percent. Newsweek got just 12.1 percent of the votes, while U.S. News earned just 6.6 percent.

And which is the weakest title as a brand, to flip the question around? Answers: U.S. News, 80.6 percent; Newsweek, 15 percent; Time, 8 percent.

Media Life was curious, considering these results, how many media planners and buyers actually read the newsweeklies. The answer is a goodly share. And again, as with quality of editorial, Newsweek edges out Time, here with 51.6 percent versus 49.5 percent. Less than a quarter of respondents say they read U.S. News, at 24.5 percent. (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

Media Life last asked readers to speculate on whether Zuckerman would sell U.S. News, in light of the recent cutbacks. Readers are divided.

Some 14.5 percent think he will, and soon, the cutbacks being a sure indicator that he is ramping up to sell. But nearly twice as many believe Zuckerman will stick it out. The far largest share, 57 percent, declined to speculate. Over the years, Zuckerman has said consistently that he intends to keep the newsmagazine, and that's in part because it gives him a podium for his ideas and access to politicians and TV news and chat shows.

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