Thursday, June 10, 2010

L.A. Times Brings Back TV Times -- At $2.99 a Month

After years of cutting back sections and downsizing the newspaper, the L.A. Times is taking the rare step of bringing a feature back: The "TV Times" insert.

But there's a catch: It won't come free with the paper. Folks who desire the "TV Times" will have to pay an extra $2.99 a month.

The L.A. Times cut TV Times all together in April 2007, after moving the section to Saturdays in 2006 (and forcing subscribers to opt-in).

That $2.99 is unusual, but perhaps the L.A. Times believes there's enough of a (mostly older, I assume) audience that still would like to buy a TV listings book. (Back in 2008, the paper said it still heard from "between 15 and 20 readers a week, demanding that the paper reintroduce it.")

TV Guide no longer publishes local listings, leaving a void in the market. For $2.99, the Times is promising a more robust book than the tiny, paper-thin TV Times that last appeared in the paper.

The new, 44-page TV Times hits newsstands on June 13, and home delivery in September. Here's what they have to say over there on Spring Street:

The Los Angeles Times will re-launch its TV Times guide on Sunday, June 13th via newsstands and retail outlets throughout Southern California. Being undertaken as a tiered roll out, with an opportunity for subscribers to opt-in now for home delivery beginning September 5th, the TV Times joins the paper’s Sunday line-up of news, opinion, entertainment, feature coverage and classifieds as a 44-page tabloid section.

The new TV Times turns up the volume on The Times' former 28-page book, last published in April 2007, to now offer 24-hour daily grid listings spanning morning, afternoon, primetime and late-night programming, four pages of alphabetized TV/cable/satellite movie listings, a full-page cover story, a TV-related crossword puzzle, episode highlights and synopses, and a dedicated sports programming page. Ad units are available on the front and back covers.

"It's great to be able to offer the TV Times to all who have missed it, especially in its new, robust form," said Los Angeles Times Assistant Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment, Sallie Hofmeister. "And it’s a great addition to our line-up of entertainment news and information."

Prior to home delivery availability and effective immediately, The Times is extending a special 15% off opt-in rate to both current and new subscribers interested in receiving the TV Times. To activate the offer, readers can call 1-800-326-5500. Regular pricing for opt-in or a stand-alone TV Times subscription will be $2.99 per month.

"Our readers tell us they want a weekly TV book that covers around-the-clock programming," said Frank Horvath, Vice President, Audience and Membership for The Times. "With the launch of the new TV Times, we're letting them know we are listening."

Here's how the old TV Times looked, before it was scrapped in 2007:

UPDATE: Apparently the L.A. Times subscription folks haven't been given the news yet. From reader Donavan:

I forwarded your piece on the re-appearance of the TV Times to my mother--one of those 'elderly' people who really missed it when it went away. She reports:

I called the number in the article and was told to call Customer Relations. Called them, went thru the long recorded list to get to an actual person. She didn’t know what I was talking about and put me on hold for a long time. Came back and said as far as they knew the daily listing was all that was available. So it hasn’t trickled down yet. I definitely want it. Nothing on the net yet, either.


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