So the rumor—which is still, we should note, just a rumor—is that listings-and-more magazine Time Out New York is in financial trouble. Tipsters say the money trouble is a result of bad investment decisions by management. But TONY has even bigger problems: its entire business model is built on quicksand.
TONY is light on content and heavy on listings. That's probably not going to change significantly. So consider what they're up against:
- Craigslist: The entire classified ad business has largely been destroyed by Craigslist. Especially in New York, where Craigslist is widely read. Because Craigslist is, you know, free.
- Yelp.com: A site with remarkably extensive listings and reviews of restaurant, bars, nightlife, bars, and shopping. And the reviews are customer-generated, rather than one magazine's opinion. Also free. (See also: Citysearch, Menupages, etc.)
- Blogs: Crazy micro-specialization means that there are probably a dozen good blogs covering any area of interest you might have in New York. Again, free.
- Other competitors: The Village Voice, NY Press, and L Magazine all do extensive reviews and event listings. All free. New York magazine could be considered a higher-end competitor, but its content is a million times better.
Suffice it to say that TONY can't depend on increasing sales of its print version to stay afloat. That leaves its website. Which they certainly understand—the mag tried to invest and make its website the leader in its category last year. Unfortunately that didn't pan out. And it's hard to see how they could surpass all the aforementioned online competitors now, even with a big infusion of money. So if TONY's business model doesn't deliver them a solid profit right where they are today, the outlook is grim. [Anybody out there with more info on TONY's financial situation (good or bad), email us please.]