USA Weekend shuts as costs spike and ads tumble

USA Weekend, the second-largest Sunday newspaper magazine in the United States, will print its final edition on Dec. 28, succumbing to soaring distribution costs and plunging advertising.The circulation of the Sunday supplement, which was stuffed into newspapers delivered to as many as 70 million homes a few years back, has fallen today to about 18 million, according to a knowledgeable source at Gannett Inc., the parent of the publication.

With advertising sales collapsing by nearly half in the last few years, USA Weekend was expected to produce about $40 million in revenue in 2014, yielding losses in excess of $10 million in each of the last two years, according to the source, who declined to be identified because s/he is not authorized to speak with the press.

Some 30 advertising and editorial staffers will lose their jobs in the shutdown.

The demise of USA Weekend will leave the contracting Sunday supplement market to Parade Magazine, whose distribution is about 32 million copies.  A few years back, its circulation was double that size, according to industry sources.

Financial information is not available for Parade because it is privately held.  However, industry sources say revenues today are in the neighborhood of $60 million, as compared with $100 million in the last two or three years.

Parade was sold in the fall to Athlon Media by Advance Publications, which had owned the title since 1976.

The once-robust Sunday supplement business unraveled as the result of the declining economics of newspaper publishing and the changing demands of advertisers.

In the heyday of newspapers – when industry-wide revenues and profits were approximately twice as large as they are today – the publishers of USA Weekend and Parade were able to charge local publishers for the right to distribute the magazines in their Sunday papers.

When newspaper advertising began the slide that has taken it today to less than half of the record $49 billion achieved in 2005, the Sunday supplement publishers found themselves first absorbing the costs of shipping the product to local newspapers and eventually paying local publishers to distribute their magazines.

The flip in the distribution model not only eliminated tens of millions of dollars of annual revenues for the Sunday supplements but also burdened them with tens of millions in new costs.

“The cost structure got crazy,” said an executive who tried to turn around the decline at USA Weekend. “You could afford to pay people to take the magazine if you had enough advertising but this doesn’t work if you don’t.”

The demand for advertising in Sunday supplements collapsed because most national advertisers are not willing to purchase space in publications that require copy to be submitted weeks in advance. “Advertising in print is soft, anyway,” said the executive.  “When you can sell it, you get the copy days before the paper is printed. It is almost impossible to get people to commit a month ahead.”

The demise of USA Weekend will punch a hole in the budgets of publishers who were being paid to distribute the supplement.  Because the payments are based on the circulation of the participating publisher, metro papers that formerly carried USA Weekend instantly will lose as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenues.

With the losses at USA Weekend soon to be stanched, Gannett plans to step up the distribution of content and advertising in the USA Today-branded sections it has been supplying to its network of more than 80 daily papers.

The modular sections, which are edited by a small team of editors at USA Today near the nation’s capital, are being credited internally at Gannett with producing $20 million in additional circulation revenues for the company’s dailies.

This has been made possible, said a corporate source, because the daily USA Today supplements have cut churn and enabled local publishers to increase circulation fees. Building on the momentum the daily sections have achieved, Gannett plans a major ad-sales push 2015.

While the USA Today supplements to date have been available only to Gannett-owned papers, the company has begun a pilot program to offer USA Today pages to non-affiliated papers.

The executive said s/he believes the real-time delivery of daily USA Today supplements will please both cost-conscious publishers and modern readers.

The delivery of fresh daily content “can produce a more relevant product that can succeed without even selling more advertising,” said the executive. “The months-old articles we used to put in the Sunday supplement don’t have same value for readers any more.”

Hersam Acorn Newspapers to Cease Operations of Tri-State Pennysaver

The Tri-State Pennysaver will cease publication on December 23, 2014, according to a release posted on the Pennysaver’s Website by Hersam Acorn Newspapers.According to Hersam Acorn—the owners of The TriState Pennysaver, the Vermont News Guide and Bennington Printing—the publishing operations of the Vermont News Guide and all specialty publications and digital platforms will be relocated to new offices in Manchester, VT. The reason for the restructuring was a result of a seven-year lull in the Southern Vermont and Western Massachusetts advertising markets that impacted both the publishing and printing divisions of Hersam Acorn’s Vermont operations, the owner explained in the release.

Effective January 30, 2015, Bennington Printing will cease operations at 109 South Street based here, and some of the operations will be absorbed into its commercial printing headquarters in Trumbull, CT.

Commenting on the closure, CEO Martin V. Hersam said: “Despite having the smartest, most hard working and dedicated employees we could not ignore the need to rescale our Vermont operations due to negative market and industry forces.”

Hersam continued, “Our printing operation in Bennington has done quite well in a very challenging economy. However, the number of outside newspaper printing clients continues to dwindle in this area—and the business would require significant capital investments to keep going. Our Connecticut commercial business is very strong and we felt this was the time to consolidate our operations there. Unfortunately, this move affects a number of truly amazing employees. This is a painful process at a very sensitive time of the year.”

Hersam did not comment on how many employees would be affected.

Heidelberg Expands Pressroom Chemicals Portfolio by Acquiring Belgium-Based BluePrint Products NV

“With the acquisition of BluePrint, we are further expanding our portfolio in the growth area of consumables,” said Harald Weimer, member of the management board responsible for sales and Heidelberg services. By acquiring this Belgian supplier of printing chemicals, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) is gaining vital know-how for developing and producing consumables in a key market segment. BluePrint offers a comprehensive range of dampening and washup solutions for sheetfed offset presses and has a particularly innovative approach to environmentally friendly products.“BluePrint and Heidelberg have already worked together closely in the past,” noted Peter Tix, head of consumables at Heidelberg. “Under the umbrella of the Saphira portfolio, we’ll be continuing to develop the BluePrint range of consumables for print production while maintaining the highest standards in terms of the environment and reliability. The products will gradually be made available on the key markets for Heidelberg.” Sales of BluePrint products outside of Heidelberg’s customer base will be continued and are also to be expanded.

Purchasing BluePrint is a further logical step in expanding the Heidelberg consumables portfolio following the acquisition of U.K. coating manufacturer Hi-Tech Coatings in 2008. Heidelberg intends to systematically increase sales of consumables in the future. “We’re looking to become the world’s leading supplier of consumables in our industry in the medium term,” explained Weimer.

With BluePrint, Heidelberg can offer its customers the expertise of an established supplier of printing chemicals. This gives Heidelberg the means to tailor products to customer needs and develop them further in-house without the delays that result from consulting external suppliers. Customer-specific solutions are also possible.

BluePrint Products serves customers in 60 countries. The company, based in Sint-Niklaas near Antwerp, Belgium, has well-developed expertise in research and development, particularly with regard to environmental aspects. BluePrint will continue to operate on the market under its own name led by the founder Kris Temmerman.

Naples Print Source Expands Production Capabilities, Gains New Business with a MGI Meteor DP8700 XL Digital Press

The team of direct mail experts at Naples Print Source have been producing Fortune-500 caliber marketing collateral for over 30 years for smaller, locally-based companies and non-profits. Industry expert and owner, Blase Ciabaton has taken Naples Print Source to new heights since taking over in 2013. Dedicated to providing the right solution, Ciabaton and his Naples Print Source team are committed to providing custom print options to meet each customer’s individual needs.Wanting to grow their business while maintaining a high level of quality, Ciabaton began evaluating different digital solutions. After providing his own files and paper to test on several digital solutions, Ciabaton decided to invest in a Meteor DP8700 XL with the help of Advanced Print Technologies, a MGI certified Elite Dealer.

“The Meteor XL stood out among the other digital solutions we looked at,” stated Ciabaton. “Not only was the quality unsurpassed, but we liked the ‘no-click charge’ model and the flexibility to work with different substrates. We can run whatever size we want and not have to worry about click charges.”

Ciabaton continued: “Once the Meteor XL was installed we ran a super format piece that no one else in our market can do without a large offset run. This sample got us in the door of a very large client and we ended up doing the largest mailer in our 34-year history. We are beyond excited for where the Meteor XL is going to take us. We didn’t buy the Meteor XL for the super format capabilities but it is now a new growth area for our business.

Prior to having the Meteor XL, Ciabato said that Naples had to outsource full-color envelopes and run addresses separately. “Now we have the flexibility to print full-color envelopes and address them simultaneously right alongside our offset process. Since installation we have significantly decreased the percentage we outsource, saving us time and money. The Meteor XL is now our primary business machine, it is not just a specialty machine. We run 85 percent of our jobs on it, we would be out of business without it.”


Fujifilm Hosts Wide-Format Summit at Newly Expanded Chicago Technology Center

Fujifilm recently held another successful Wide-Format Technology Summit at it’s all-new Chicago Technology Center in Hanover Park, IL.

Fujifilm North America, Graphic Systems Division recently hosted another successful Wide-Format Technology Summit at its all-new Chicago Technology Center in Hanover Park, IL.

Nearly 50 invited guests toured the expanded and renovated Fujifilm facility, encompassing over 23,000 square feet of innovations, and experienced live demonstrations of the Inca Onset R40i and Q40i; the Acuity series of presses, including the all-new Acuity ; the Uvistar Pro-8W theEsko Kongsberg Cutting Table iXP24 and ColorGATE RIP software.

“Experiencing all of Fujifilm’s line-up of products under one roof is fantastic. We are going home with so much knowledge,” said Brian Waggoner, print production manager, Fleet Graphics. “Our wish list is obviously growing after seeing everything in-person,” added the Dayton, OH-based print provider.

A highlight during the multi-day technology summit included Fujifilm’s signature ‘Customer User Panel,’ featuring Fujifilm customers sharing their real-life experiences with Fujifilm solutions. The diverse panel included Todd Meissner, president, Color Ink, Sussex, Wisconsin; Brett Levitt, vice president, Oakley Signs & Graphics, Chicago; and David Leavy, president, Creative Printing, Merriam, KS.

“The customer panel always rates highly with attendees,” commented Terry Mitchell, vice president marketing, Fujifilm North America, Graphic Systems Division. “The session is an open forum of questions and the panel provides insights from their experience with wide-format. It’s always a highlight of our summits.”

The presentation line-up included a brief corporate overview of Fujifilm and an introduction to Fujifilm inkjet technologies followed by more in-depth presentations of the capabilities of specific wide-format solutions. Will Eve, director of R&D, Inca Digital, presented the technology of the Onset series; Stephanie Brown, strategic account manager, ColorGATE, spoke about ColorGATE RIP software; and Steve Bennett, vice president of sales, Esko, detailed the benefits of Esko Graphics and their relationship with Fujifilm.

“Our Technology Summits are great opportunities for customers to learn about wide-format; it’s very satisfying to educate, excite, and entertain our customers,” said Jeffrey Nelson, business development manager, Inkjet Solutions, Fujifilm North America, Graphic Systems Division. “My hope is that they come away with a much better understanding of our technology and commitment to inkjet. It’s an extraordinary time to be involved with wide-format, and a fantastic opportunity to share information with our customers.”

“We like where everything is going with Fujifilm,” added Waggoner. “Fleet Graphics has been working with Fujifilm for a very long time, and our line-up of products includes Fujifilm offset plates. I currently run the Fujifilm Acuity Advance with white ink, and produce anything and everything under the sun. The Acuity can print any job we want it to do, lots of foam board, and a lot of special-sized acrylics with white on the back.” Waggoner mentioned their wish list now includes the new Acuity F with dual print zones.

“We appreciate the new technology advancements of the Acuity Select, and the Inca Onset with the Hostert full-automation is very impressive. Fujifilm technology is always the top of the line, always something new.”

Marco Boer, vice president, IT Strategies gave an inspiring presentation titled “Moving to Inkjet: Where, Why, and When?” and reinforced with the attendees Fujifilm’s commitment to the industry and the yearly investment in R&D to develop new inkjet solutions.

“The future is inkjet,” said Boer. “Fujifilm inkjet technology is liberating the ability to create things to print, and print buyers are demanding ‘just-in-time’ print technology. Inkjet technology provides these capabilities.”

Fujifilm’s invited guests were treated to a welcome dinner reception on the 27th floor of The Wit hotel in downtown Chicago, and on the second day an evening boat cruise that launched from Navy Pier, featuring dinner, cocktails, a live DJ and amazing skyline views of the city.

“Hosting evening events as part of the program allows attendees to network and spend time together,” said Mitchell. “This is another highly rated part of the program that we will continue to provide as we plan future events.”