Prometheus CEO Richard Beckman says he isn’t being pushed out of the company, he’s merely heading out of the magazine division to develop new businesses.
In an interview with TheWrap, Beckman — who told his top executives this week that Chairman Jimmy Finkelstein would be taking over the day to day running of the company — said, “I am the CEO, I was the CEO and will continue to be the CEO.”
Stipulated. (Although the New York Post quoted an insider saying he was being eased out. But never mind.)
So if Beckman is staying, yet leaving the day to day running of the company to Finkelstein, what does that mean?
It likely means that Prometheus needs their chief rainmaker, Beckman, chasing after the kind of revenue that will make the company profitable.
Beckman essentially said as much, noting that he’d been to Hong Kong, Singapore and the Middle East three times since the new year.
“Part of the business I’m really interested in is developing branded entertainment programming like the Billboard Music Awards which we just launched. That’s a business I’m very passionate about,” he said. (Beckman resurrected the awards, which had been off the air for several years.)
Which also means that the magazines are not producing the kind of revenue that was anticipated or is needed to make the venture profitable.
“I feel good about the product,” he said of THR, Billboard and Adweek. “We have the right people in place to run that business.”
“We’ll have $3 million in new ad revenue from the consumer segment,” he went on. “It’s not as much as we’d hoped for when we started on this timetable. There’s a lot of key fashion, and strong representation in luxury.”
But the ad pages are uneven at best. And the word on the street is that between the traditional trades, Variety (incredibly) took a lot of Emmy business from THR this season.
More to the point, given the stakes and the huge operating costs at the rebooted THR, with a much expanded staff at high-ticket salaries, another $3 million in revenue cannot come close to cutting it.
Beckman said that revenue was up 52% since the relaunch. And he put circulation at 72,000. Apparently that’s not enough.
With Beckman on the road constantly, it might make some sense that Finkelstein make the day to day decisions that can’t wait for Beckman to wake up and check his email in Hong Kong.
Beckman’s recent move to remove The Hollywood Reporter’s consumer-oriented publisher, Lori Burgess, and replace her with a trade veteran, Lynne Segall, suggests that national brands are not embracing the new THR as he’d hoped.
Segall will be able to drill deep into the entertainment industry, which has responded enthusiastically to the glossy weekly magazine created by editor Janice Min.
But who is the audience? That’s still a bit of a mystery. With specials on luxury goods one week and philanthropy the next, the core audience for this product is still somewhat elusive, though Hollywood executives surely like seeing their wedding and birth announcements on glossy paper.
“It’s not where we want to be with the end goal,” said Beckman, adding, “It’s eight months into launch.”