Blog Post

Ziff Davis To Close Print PCMag, Focus On Online; Still Looking For Options For Gaming Division

imageZiff Davis, the tech/gaming media company that recently exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy, is now taking the brave but inevitable step of closing down the print version of PCMag to focus its energy on its growing PCMag online network of sites, led by flagship PCmag.com. The magazine, which was started in 1982, has a storied history, but its print base eroded over the years as its core brand of journalism — news you can use while shopping for computers — moved online. It cut back from bi-weekly to monthly earlier this year. PCMag, which literally invented the idea of comparative hardware and software reviews, at one time during the ’80s averaged about 400 pages an issue, with some issues breaking the 500- and even the 600-page marks, according to this Wikipedia history.

The last issue will be dated January 2009; the closure will claim the jobs of about seven employees, all from the print production side. None of the editorial employees, who are now writing for the online sites anyway, will be affected. The site will still be called PCMag (with mag remaining in the name), but the online network — which has sites such as ExtremeTech, Gearlog, Appscout, Smart Device Central, GoodCleanTech, DL.TV, Cranky Geeks, and PCMagCast — will now be called PCMag Digital Network, with PCMag.com as its lead property. The company has about 200 employees, and the PCMag division has about 140 employees.

I spoke in detail today with Jason Young, the CEO of Ziff Davis, about this move, the online focus, and the status of the company’s more-troubled gaming division.

What he said after the jump

On the online side, he wouldn’t disclose the revenues for the PCMag brand, but said it was in “tens and tens of millions” of dollars. He said the revenues on the online side have grown an average of 42 percent yearly since 2001; digital is about 70 percent of the revenues for the PCMag brand, and overall is profitable. He said that despite the economic situation, the PCMag brand revenues grew about 18 percent in Q308, and thinks that it will hold up despite advertising downturn due to the power of the brand. Of course competition is heavy for those shrinking ad dollars, from everyone including other established brands like CNET, to newer ones like Engadget and others.

As for the status of its gaming group, which consists of its 1Up online brand and other gaming sites and EGM print magazine (the only print book left within Ziff Davis), Young said it is considering strategic options for the division. Same is true for its now shuttered DigitalLife consumer tech expo event. The company has tried to sell the gaming division before as well but was not able to find the right buyer then, our sources say.

Update: PCMag will continue to be published as an electronic/digital edition, as editor Lance Ulanoff explains here.

62 Responses to “Ziff Davis To Close Print PCMag, Focus On Online; Still Looking For Options For Gaming Division”

  1. Steve Kurz

    I took them up on their offer to change my subscription to another magazime back in January. They keep telling me that it takes 12 weeks. It is now six months. I am thinking that they have taken my money and ran. No wonder they had to go Chapter 11.

    I want a paper magazine, not one that I have to sit in front of a computer screen.

  2. Donald Ball

    I opted to unsubscribe in Dec 2008 due to my vision problems I felt I could not read and entire magazine on my computer screen. I was advised that I had 63issues remaining. Ziff said since my order was placed thru the Subco Agency I was to call them at 800 258 3350 to get refund. Subco says my subscription(s) were handled by Publications Unlimited,call them at 800 267 2611. Publications Unlimited says we have notified Magazine Emporium that you have unsubscribed and that they should send you a check since they collected your money. Magazine Emporium ( 800 332 0278 ) no longer has a person answering the phone., the recorded message says leave a message andwe will call back 24-48 hours or email our website. It doesn't happen.

    I have been thru this loop-the-loop three times and have yet to see even
    one thin dime from Ziff Davis or any of their henchmen.

  3. Ziff Davis Crooks

    At this point it is Over 5 months now did not transfer my subscription as promised! Sad really enjoyed PC magazine. I had 13 issues remaining. Now the entire experience has left a bad taste in my mouth. Ziff Davis prepare for Chapter 11 bankruptcy again as your customer service is the worst! :(

  4. Robert Spellman

    As a loyal subscriber for many years, I am disgusted by the change to digital. We paid in good faith for a printed magazine and have been stiffed! A refund should be offered to those who dont want a digital version. Shame on you Ziff Davis. I hope you get what you deserve for this.

  5. ***** *******

    How do digital magazines save the Earth. To read then you much print them out. If not you have to scroll for days.

    Must be a way to get a refund

  6. Its all about numbers. Unless you are walking around with a paper bag on your head, print editions of anything have been shrinking.

    Profit margin forecasts by mother companies have to be met to please stockholders. Whenever a company goes public its the beginning of the end eventually.

    I predict most magazines will eventually cease to have a print edition.
    Except maybe People or other non-thinking publications that consist mainly of celeb photographs.
    Saving trees argument by loco greens does not cut it anymore.

    Magazines like PC are difficult to digest at times just by scrolling screen after screen.
    Sitting down with a print edition and being able to reread certain articles wherever you are is just as important, even to advertisers.
    Depending on one source of info is stupid. Never heard of power outages, network glitches and on and on?

    I suspect we are going through a period that was inevitable. Unfortunately a lot of readers will be left out of the loop.
    Future customers are just getting acquainted with their PC.
    Will libraries turn into internet cafes when periodicals and books (kinkle?) start to disappear from shelves.
    Then what?

    We have become slaves to our cell fones, computers, video games, 200+ tv channels and other gadgets.
    I witness this whenever I am trapped in a public place by the chatter of keyboards, blipping cell fones and their rude owners.

  7. Dan Barber

    It's kind of ironic that a paper magazine talked about the digital world for years and promoted the poison that killed it.

    Someday someone will provide a fresh new media that can be taken anywhere and read anytime. It will not required electrons or "0's and "1"'s. It will be flexible and pass through airport security with a breeze. It won't require a keyboard and mouse nor electricity to operate. It will be easily shared and carried anywhere at anytime.

  8. I was willing to work with PC Mag and go to their digital edition until I discovered that to read or download the magazine they require that you go through a company called Zinio and install that company's proprietary software. Of course this Zinio software only works on Mac or Windows. I happen to be a Linux user so I'm outta luck. Well, if I'm outta luck so is PC Mag. I terminated my subscription this week with an explanation as to why. You would think that a magazine supposedly dedicated to technology would get it right and not be so short-sighted as to alienate some of their readers. Why could they not just e-mail each month's issue directly to my e-mail address as a PDF file or with a link to a PDF? Are you listening Jason Young, Lance Ulanoff, et al?

  9. Eugene E Brobst

    I overlooked the request received on 12-23-08 for going to this website to provide my email address so that my subscription might continue digitally. I trust that it is not too late to now provide that information so that my subscription might continue. Thank you.

    E. E. Brobst

  10. Robert Kendall

    I'm currently an over the road trucker sans laptop or mobile communications. I get back to the house for two days every two weeks. I've enjoyed being able to read the magazine in my hands. I hardly have time to catch up on "to do" lists as it is without being required to sit in front of a monitor and read an online periodical. I'm another customer who'll ask for a refund on my remaining subscription. I'll find another magazine to subscribe to. Too bad, I've been reading the magazine since 1984. I am a realist. Companies must do what they need to do to survive. Thanks for the many great years.

  11. James Pinney

    i have just renewed my subscription for another in november. you did not advise of the termination of the print version of p c magazine. please refund my money. james pinney 65 w. jackson blvd. chicago il. 60604 thanks.

  12. Carl Lauenstein

    I have just renewed my subsceiption for another year in November. You did not advise of this termination of the print version of P C Magazine. Please refund my money.

  13. Don Miller

    Sounds great….you want me to pay you to read your articles on the Internet !!!!
    Why don't you pay me to read my e-mails.

    You have been pounding me with mailings wanting me to renew without mentioning that your magazine is going away.

    Please send my by return mail. 233910

    Don Miller