State of the Media w/ Norb Garrett of TEN | Why close print magazines?
Print magazines have been taking a beating for years now, but come Feb 1st one of the largest culls yet happens as The Enthusiast Network, the largest stakeholder in the action sports media game, is closing titles like SURFING and (as reported by STAB) SNOWBOARDER is looking to either cease print all together or at the least appear in a different form, like one off hardcovers.
The sad thing is the only real surprise is that it’s taken this long. As large retail stores close, companies make less, so can spend less on marketing. For one company to own multiple print magazines that are cannibalizing each other in the same space. Spreading the same amount of money around for two titles and two staffs isn’t feasible anymore.
Shop.Eat.Surf caught up with Norb Garrett who is the EVP/GM for The Enthusiast Network to talk about the current state of media and the decision behind shutting the doors at Surfing. Here’s a sample, but he also mentions that Surfing will cease to exist in all forms. Anyone looking for a new Insta handle?
SES: You’ve been in the media business a long time. How tough is it out there?
Norb Garrett: It’s different than it has been in the past, but I think it’s more exciting and there’s more opportunity than there ever was before. The way business used to be, and the way it is today – whether it’s the surf industry or banking – it has changed.
Historically, for 50-plus years we had two global surf media brands that were serving an audience that was supported largely by an endemic advertising base that could support them.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. Look at what’s happened to big companies in our space, or to big retailers such as PacSun or Sports Authority.
The world’s changed, and we need to continue to evolve our brands just like others are doing.
I think the most important thing coming out of this is there’s nobody in the world more invested in surfing than we are. We put more into the industry and audience than any other media brand in the world.
We host global events, we live stream award shows, we open up bars that represent our lifestyle. We are fully invested in this but we’ve got to be smarter with our resource allocation and how we go to market, and we think the best way to do that is with one brand.
SES: Given all the financial challenges in your advertising base and in the media industry, in some ways it is surprising it didn’t happen sooner.
Norb Garrett: Here’s the reality. I know how hard it is to build a brand. It’s really easy to dismantle one, it’s really easy for someone to sit in a boardroom and say, ‘that brand doesn’t make enough money, kill it.’
But that’s not how we operate at TEN. We understand the value of brands, we understand the blood, sweat and tears that go into building something. We understand how important they are for the industry. We did not take a knee jerk view on how to manage these businesses, we tried to analyze it from every angle.
This was a very difficult, emotional decision. You don’t make a decision lightly to shut down a brand that has had such a unique and important role in helping to grow surf culture over the last 50 years.
But we really felt that at this stage the best thing we can do for the industry and for the consumer is to put all our energy and all our focus into Surfer.