Changes at TV Guide

I’ve added two commercial spots for TV Guide fall preview issues to my TV Guide Commercial Spots article, and, coincidentally, The New York Times published an interesting article about TV Guide yesterday, in which Jeremy W. Peters relates how the magazine is in the midst of a valiant effort to cut costs and become an “enthusiast publication” that television fans will want to read every week.

As Peters points out, there was a time when the annual fall preview issue of TV Guide sold more than 20 million copies, but that was decades ago. Is there anything the magazine can do to convince readers it is relevant in today’s blog-oriented world?

For some reason the article states that this year’s fall preview issue came out this week and is dated September 20th. I have the fall preview issue sitting in front of me right now. It is dated September 13th and came out last week. I believe this week’s issue is the traditional “returning favorites” issue.

11 Replies to “Changes at TV Guide”

  1. The fools that ran TV Guide into the ground thoroughly missed the online listings boat that somehow sailed from dock under the ZAP2it banner. Nobody was better prepared to capitalize and commercialize the conversion to web, and absolutely TV Guide blew it all in a vainglorious effort to preserve hard copy sales.

    ZAP2it so thoroughly defined the standard for online listings, I couldn’t even be bothered to seek out and subscribe to TV Guide’s online version to see how they compare.

    It is wise that they are re-focussing on television enthusiasts, who have stuck by them out of tradition. I would bother to seek them out if they found a way to digitize their library of issues and network listings / features going back to the fifties, but they are probably too economically pressed to entertain any web expansion at this point.

  2. TV GUIDE is the way it is these days because Rupert Murdoch bought out Triangle Publications (the original owner) in 1988, and proceeded to turn the magazine into a semi-promotional “mouthpiece” for Fox TV shows, with a tabloid feel to it {how many covers focused on “THE SIMPSONS” can one stand???}- and eventually, a clone of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY [with several of its ex-contributors, including Bruce Fretts, on its staff]. I recall one year (1990, I believe) when the “Fall Preview” issue was stretched out into FOUR consecutive issues! And the newer staff members wasn’t too familiar with “classic TV”, either…or else, why would they have confused “Eileen Ryan” with “IRENE Ryan” in a”BEN CASEY” listing?

  3. …so THAT’S the face behind the voice of all those TV GUIDE ads in the ’60s and ’70s! In the ’62 ad, there’s space at :07 for a live announcer to add, “On sale now, at your local newsstand”.

  4. After they stopped the listings and grid at 11pm I knew TV guide wasn’t going to be sitting on my coffee table for long.

    Zap2it is my current television guide as well and they include ALL the basic cable channels too.

  5. From

    As TV Guide bloated into a journalistic behemoth, it used its ever-expanding cachet to attract big names. With high freelance rates and a giant audience, the magazine became a favorite pit stop for the slumming intellectual. Would you believe that Margaret Mead and James Michener penned articles for TV Guide? Yes? Then how about John Updike and S.J. Perelman? Lewis Mumford and Arthur Schlesinger Jr.? Alfred Kazin and William Saroyan? And, not least, there’s Salvador Dalí, who painted the magazine’s cover on June 8, 1968, and offered his unpasteurized thoughts on the future of the cool medium (“Laser beams … DNA … holograms!”).

    1. Philip Roth also wrote an article for TV Guide when his novella “The Ghost Writer” was filmed for PBS. It has never been reprinted anywhere, to my knowledge.
      My dad worked as a newsman for our local NBC affiliate for thirty years, from the mid-fifties to the mid-eighties. He used to get a free copy of TV Guide every week, and when I was a kid, I would be waiting at the front door for him to get home every Friday so I could read it. And the Fall Preview issues were the most eagerly-awaited ones of all.

  6. I’ve been apprised that the “Voice of TV Guide” from c.early 1960’s to 1981 was the late, legendary (and oft-controversial) Philadelphia TV and radio broadcaster and news analyst Taylor Grant. I was directed to a website which had bloopers from the radio – and a 1953 ABC radio newscast anchored by Grant was among them. The vocal cadence shows no doubt that, though he was younger then, it does fit in with the voice heard for many years on TV Guide commercials:

  7. Where can I find an archived set of the Magazine (say from 1966 to 1988).

    Was it ever preserved on Microfilm? I really want to see a replica of the print copy, where the Star Trek listing were all the same “Kirk travels to a strange planet and encounters a weird creature”, etc.

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