This is a sad day for me, as yet another hunting magazine goes down.
F+W Media, publisher of Deer & Deer Hunting and 50-some other magazines, is liquidating. The New York-based publishing house, which has been in business for 100 years, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy papers on March 10.
According to the filing, the company has seen magazine subscriptions drop from 33.4 million in 2015 to 21.5 million in 2018. Advertising revenues decreased from $20.7 million in 2015 to $13.7 million.
The company’s CEO summed it up: “Over the past decade, the market for subscription print periodicals of all kinds, including those published by the company, has been in decline as an increasing amount of content has become available electronically at little or no cost to readers.”
Yes, and all of us in the outdoor media, from small bloggers like me to the largest publishing houses still in business, are still, after many uncertain years, trying to figure it out. There is so much free content out there, and so much more written and video content coming online every minute of every day.
How to compete? How to stay relevant? How to scratch by and make a living? A profit?
F+W Media hopes to sell off its magazine and book divisions, or else Deer and Deer Hunting and the company’s other print/digital titles will cease to exist.
Investing in print media is risky (understatement of the year) but my hope is that one of the few large outdoor-lifestyle publishers left—say the publishers of Field & Stream and Outdoor Life—would take a chance on a strong “vertical” brand like Deer and Deer Hunting and add it to their lineup. This one deer magazine is all any outdoor publisher would want.
Deer hunting and whitetail in particular dominate and drive the entire hunting industry. If not for deer and those of us that hunt them, there would be no hunting media of any kind.
Surely there is a way for a print publisher to figure it out, and peddle enough advertising targeted to America’s 10 million deer hunters to keep 6 issues of Deer and Deer Hunting on the shelves, and a digital version on our devices 24/7/365.