Even in a time when the media is shrinking alongside home ownership, and consumer spending is only just beginning to recover, Hearst Corporation is in talks to launch a new shelter magazine. According to sources with knowledge of the company, Hearst president Cathie Black hopes to create the title in tandem with the Scripps Network’s home-design channel, HGTV. The launch wouldn’t be a huge stretch for Hearst: Scripps also owns the Food Network, and the company announced their partnership with Hearst in September 2008 to launch Food Network Magazine.
The first issue hit newsstands a month later, and has proved to be a circulation powerhouse. Hearst increased the mag’s base rate from 400,000 to 900,000 in October of 2009, and plans to up it to 1.1 million in October of 2010. "They’ve had such success with Food Network Magazine, they are developing a project with HGTV," said one insider. "And the hunt is on for an editor-in-chief." (We could not confirm any editors who have yet been approached.)
Certainly there is a space to fill in the unpromising shelter-magazine category. Condé Nast closed beloved décor mag Domino in January of 2009, and Martha Stewart Omnimedia’s Blueprint was shuttered in December of 2007. Even Hearst folded their last shelter magazine, O, At Home into O, The Oprah Magazine.
Tackling topics from buying your first home to sprucing up your for-sale property, HGTV runs original and catchy programs like Bang For Your Buck, My House Is Worth What? and Design To Sell. But HGTV lacks the star power that Food Network has in its chefs. While the latter boasts stars like Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, and Paula Deen, the hosts of the household shows are not quite household names.
A spokesperson for Hearst only said, “Regarding launches, we speak to someone about a new magazine idea every week but we have nothing official to report at this time. At the moment, we're focused on Food Network Magazine, which debuted last year and is a runaway success with readers and advertisers, tripling its circulation in a year's time.”