Media Insider: Coronavirus Traffic Bump Stalls, L.A. Times Furloughs Staffers, Meredith Launches Two Magazines

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s round-up of media stories from the week.

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NIEMANLAB | JOSHUA BENTON
The Coronavirus Traffic Bump to News Sites Is Pretty Much Over Already

Some parts of America seem to be having success flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections. But there’s one place where the curve has already gone flat: traffic to news sites. Last month’s striking surge in audience attention has ebbed week by week and has now largely washed away. As the coronavirus grew into a global pandemic and as its impact on most people’s lives moved from theoretical to very real, news organizations benefited from a swell of interest and traffic. Readers turned to established news outlets more than partisan sites of any type. It was strong evidence of the news industry’s true status as an “essential” business. But then attention to coronavirus news began to ebb by the end of March, according to data from Chartbeat. And as of right now, news traffic to news sites, both in the U.S. and around the world, is pretty much back to pre-coronavirus levels.

Related: Digital advertising rates are down by 30%, according to media and internet company IAC. 

MEDIAPOST | SARA GUAGLIONE
Los Angeles Times Furloughs Staffers, Ad Revs ‘Nearly’ Eliminated

The Los Angeles Times’ advertising revenue has “nearly been eliminated,” according to an internal memo from Chris Argentieri, President-Chief Operations Officer of the California Times newspaper group. “Public health guidelines related to the coronavirus have led to both unforeseen reduced revenue and unplanned expenses for our company,” he wrote. “The decline in revenue from every area of our business is unprecedented.” Senior managers on both the editorial and business sides of the company will have reduced pay for 12 weeks, Argentieri announced. The reductions will range from 5% to 15%, depending on annual salary. “Certain employees” on the business side will be furloughed for up to 16 weeks (or four months) without pay but will retain health insurance benefits. 401(k) contributions are suspended for non-union employees until the end of the year. The changes go into effect on April 19.

Advance Local followed suit with its own series of pay cuts and furloughs to bring expenses down and ride out the deep advertising recession.

NEW YORK POST | KEITH J. KELLY
Meredith Still Plans to Launch Magazines Millie and Sweet July

Despite the industry’s ad woes, Meredith is going ahead with two magazine launches this year. One million copies of a new women’s national finance magazine called Millie are being mailed this week to subscribers of Real Simple. The company also is launching a magazine with Food Network chef Ayesha Curry, the spouse of NBA great Stephen Curry, called Sweet July. Both mags are slated to be quarterly. Sweet July faces the more daunting challenge, since it’s intended as a newsstand-only title – and despite the March reprieve, the single-copy market is expected to be tougher as the coronavirus crisis drags on. Meredith is banking that Curry’s social media following will translate into an audience for the magazine.

Read next: Hearst prides itself on zero layoffs during coronavirus crisis. 

AXIOS | SARA FISCHER
Bloomberg to Launch New Entertainment Vertical

Bloomberg is launching a new entertainment-focused vertical called “Screentime” that will be anchored by Bloomberg talent across the U.S., Asia, and Europe. Screentime will include: a weekly entertainment newsletter, authored by media and entertainment reporter Lucas Shaw; a new “Pop Star Power Ranking,” which lists the top 25 based on metrics from album sales to social media fandom; and a new integration across Bloomberg’s Business of Sports podcast and Bloomberg’s social channels. Screentime’s coverage will span four main pillars: television and movies, music and podcasting, esports and video games, and influencers. The company has launched a number of new verticals that are similarly structured to Screentime — like “Hyperdrive” for the auto and mobility industry, and “Prognosis” for health care — to help wrangle its 2,700-person newsroom.

Analysts expect that the global on-demand video market could grow to $87 billion by 2024. 

CNBC | ANNIE PALMER
Amazon Slashes Commission Rates for Program That Gives Publishers a Cut of Sales

Amazon is cutting commission rates for members of its affiliate program. The company notified members of the program, known as Amazon Associates, that it will slash commission rates beginning April 21. Amazon has for years operated the affiliate program, which allows members to advertise and link to Amazon products in exchange for a percentage of the sales. The program drives significant revenue for online websites that link out to Amazon products in their content. It’s especially important for online publishers like BuzzFeed, The New York Times, and Vox Media that publish buying guides that drive readers to buy products from Amazon for a cut of the sales.

This comes after Amazon and Walmart already suspended marketing deals with digital media firms. 

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Maria Perez is Director, Web Experience & Operations at Cision. In her spare time, she runs Bags of Love Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides cancer patients with care packages aimed at making their treatment more comfortable. She also enjoys kickboxing, baking, and cuddling with her dog Toody, who thinks he rules the world.

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