Canadian Magazine Industry News
25 September 2008,     TORONTO
MagHound-like offer has been successful for Rogers
The Rogers Magazine Service has been offering a MagHound-like bundle promotion for about six months now, says Tracey McKinley. "It's worked really well for us."

Circulators at Canada’s two largest publishing companies are paying close attention to MagHound, a NetFlix-like magazine service rolled out by Time Inc. (in beta) earlier this month.

“For me, it’s exciting to see a multi-title publisher come out with something innovative like this,” says Christopher Purcell, vice president of consumer marketing for Transcontinetal Media.

“I think it’s a really interesting idea,” says Tracey McKinley, VP of consumer marketing at Rogers Publishing Ltd.

The idea, in short, is this: Consumers pay a monthly rate ($4.95 for three titles, $7.95 for five titles and $9.95 for seven titles), with the option of changing the magazines they receive at any time. Sales count as single copies on audit statements. 

MagHound is not available to Canadian consumers or publishers right now and there are no official plans to bring it North any time soon. A representative for Time Inc. said the company would eventually look at Canadian market prospects, should the initiative succeed in the U.S.

Purcell at Transcon said he’s very interested in being a part of MagHound, since it could help expose some of Transcon’s less Canadian-centric titles (such as Style at Home or The Hockey News) to an American audience.

Still, he’s well aware of the logistical challenges (outlined nicely here) something like MagHound could present. “We’d kind of want to wait until the American magazines have settled into a rhythm and at least we would have some inkling as to whether or not it was something valuable from a publisher’s standpoint,” Purcell says, adding, “I think it’s very valuable to a consumer."

Asked about the potential for a “made in Canada” solution, Purcell replied, “I wouldn’t be interested in reinventing it; I would be very interested in being a part of it.”

Transcon does sell its magazines through the Rogers Magazine Service, which, for the last year, has been testing a MagHound-like promotion, where customers pay a monthly fee (as low as $3.75) to receive three magazines, with the option of switching titles at any time. “It’s been our most successful offer this year,” McKinley says. (There are over 100 titles available through the RMS, including American ones.)

The differences between the RMS offer and MagHound are slight but important. For one, titles sold through the RMS count as subscription sales, rather than single copies. Time Inc. is also placing a lot more emphasis on the option of swapping titles, McKinley says. “We don’t get a ton of swapping around [at RMS]. If we did, we might have to review our processes. But right now, we can accommodate it."

MagHound may have turn out to have "applicability" for Rogers magazines, McKinley says, but for now, she's taking a wait-and-see approach. "We're looking to see what the consumer repsonse is like."

— M.U.
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