June/July 2015
Volume 35 No. 5

February 2015
View complete issue as a PDF»

My 2¢

By Dom Serafini

The digital possibilities are endless. It could replace print. It could replace TV trade shows. It could replace traditional program distribution. … But until that time comes, print trades will still be the favorite and most effective marketing tool at markets, and for now, I, for one, find it too time-consuming to consult digital market guides.

Last year, the subscription department of VideoAge received a request from a studio executive: “Please don’t send the print version anymore since I prefer reading it online.” Another reader wrote: “Save my printed edition because it helps save trees.”

In my view, only a few people read publications online. Or better yet, many people read publications online, but only selected media. As for saving trees, VideoAge uses recycled paper that doesn’t harm even a live Christmas tree.

I’m very selective when it comes to my online reading, considering the little free time I have available, so my online selection includes Dagospia.com, an Italian political gossip-slash-news aggregator; VideoAge’s daily newsletter, VideoAge’s weekly “Water Cooler” feature, the Spanish-language The Daily Television from Argentina and a variety of other publications, but only when I’m researching a topic like this one.

In my experience, people — especially when they’re busy — leaf through paper consumer dailies in their offices and printed trade publications during stolen moments at trade shows, without bothering to read them online, except when someone sends them a link to a particularly interesting, funny or outrageous article.

I remember when TV executive Fred Cohen used to say that during the Cannes TV markets (like MIP-TV and MIPCOM) his bidet was full of magazines that he would read while in the toilet. In my view, that’s a better use of the bidet than when people use it to wash their feet.

Indeed, it is difficult to read The New York Times on a smartphone, iPad or tablet while in the bathroom; a place where people I know stay informed. You need the print version (please don’t make me go into detail...).

In the case of trade shows, I find it to be too complex and time-consuming to even consult digital market guides at MIP-TV or NATPE. The print version remains the simplest and most direct way to find participants’ names and companies.

In a recent article, The New York Times’ Public Editor wrote that, according to Canadian author and blogger Chris Boutet, only journalists and their parents buy printed publications. As a rebuttal, the Public Editor presented a few facts:

  • More than 70 percent of all revenues from The New York Times came from print editions.
  • More than a million people still buy the Sunday edition of the Times.
  • More than 23 percent of people who buy the printed version of the Times are in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
  • The typical digital Times subscriber averages 54-years-old; perhaps implying that people in that age bracket have lots of free time on their hands.

Going back to VideoAge, I know that — at least during TV trade shows — very few executives have the time to actually read more than just their e-mails. Plus, I’m not aware of any purely online media that actually makes any money or is considered on par with print media. I clearly remember when the president of a Latin American film and TV distributor was celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary, he refused flat out to be featured solely in VideoAge’s online edition, insisting on the printed version, even at the cost of waiting a few months. He reasoned that since it would also appear online, he’d rather reap the benefit of the “more prestigious” (in his thinking) print version first.

The Public Editor also explained that New York Times research made clear that, “Print readers love print. The affinity they have for it is astronomical. And that sentiment won’t change.”
Since print readers are responsible for most of VideoAge’s revenues, we make sure that the magazine’s articles are challenging, comprehensive and prepared with high standards of journalism. And since those readers are the most engaged with the print version, they’re the most valuable to our advertisers.

It is possible that eventually digital will replace print. It is also possible that digital will replace TV trade shows, but until that time, print trades will still be the favorite and most effective marketing tool at markets.