Time Out Readies Chicago Edition

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British publisher Time Out Group next month launches Time Out Chicago, its second city magazine in the United States after an edition for New York debuted in 1995, and its 15th worldwide.


The four-color matte weekly will cover Chicago arts and culture, targeting young, socially active residents of the city. The choice of Chicago had much to do with the city's similarity to New York and London.


"It's a similar structure physically because it's got a very centralized area where all the entertainment is," said Cyndi Stivers, president and editorial director of Time Out New York. "It's got a downtown, and we'll cover all parts of the city, not just Lake Shore Drive.


"But the point is, compared to Los Angeles, where you really have to give driving directions and parking directions, in Chicago, London and New York you have people commuting on public transportation. That gives them time to read."


The magazine (www.timeoutchicago.com) is a 50-50 partnership between Time Out New York and Joe Mansueto, founder and CEO of financial ratings firm Morningstar Inc. The New York edition has a circulation of 138,000.


Time Out Chicago's first-year target circulation is 40,000 through newsstand and subscription sales. Trim size is the same as Time magazine. Cover price is $2.50 versus $2.99 for Time Out New York, and a subscription costs $19.99 for 51 issues. The first Time Out Chicago issue hits newsstands and mailboxes March 3.


Issues will stick to Time Out New York's format: listings in categories such as art, books, children's interests, comedy, dance, clubs, theater, music, restaurants, sports, shopping, television and movies. News, reviews, previews and interviews also will be featured in Time Out's trademark cheeky tone.


The tagline sums up the brand spirit: "The obsessive guide to impulsive entertainment."


A key departure from the New York edition is Time Out Chicago's coverage of sports.


"In New York, no matter how hard we tried, there wasn't as much interest in sports because it was so well covered by the local dailies," Stivers said. "In Chicago, they're sports crazy, and our editors there think sports needs its own section."


Besides circulation, mostly local advertisers like clubs, shows, retailers, restaurants and beverage marketers will generate revenue for Time Out Chicago.


Chad Schlegel is editor-in-chief of Time Out Chicago and Steve Timble is publisher.


Time Out New York is promoting the Chicago sibling through a contest. Entrants can win a trip for two to Chicago. The site at www.timeoutny.com is promoting the new title, supported by exposure in subscriber e-mail newsletters. Direct mail, transit ads, street teams and newsstand promotions will generate further publicity.


Time Out Chicago debuts a year after the launch of Time Out New York for Kids. The city guide for families ups its frequency from quarterly to bimonthly with the March/April issue. Weekly online updates will continue at www.tonykids.com.


Founded 37 years ago by Tony Elliott, Time Out Group also has magazines in cities such as Russia's St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Beijing, Istanbul, Athens, Abu Dhabi, Moscow and Dubai. An edition for Bombay launched in the fall. The frequency depends on the market's capacity to generate sustainable revenue, population and frequency of events.


Time Out Group also publishes 49 international Time Out guidebooks. A popular guide in the United States is its food guide for New York.


Outside the United States and Western Europe, all Time Out publications are the result of licensing or partnership arrangements. Elliott wholly owns the London edition.


Local publishers will observe Time Out Chicago's entry keenly. The Reader, the equivalent to New York's Village Voice weekly newspaper, serves the same audience sought by the new title. Tribune Co. has its free Web site at www.metromix.com. And there is the lavish monthly Chicago Magazine.


"We're the single, active people who go out every night," Stivers said. "The others have a much broader target. That is one of the things that advertisers love, because we really present the exact demographic they're looking for."


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