Newsweek strikes deal to build foreign editions

Recent covers. (Newsweek)
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Newsweek has entered into a partnership with the global media consultancy Empirical Media to strike new foreign licensing agreements for the print magazine and its website.

Empirical, which is headed up by veteran media executive and private-equity guy Jim Friedlich, will initially focus on markets in Central Europe and Asia.

Newsweek has existing licensing partnerships, by which foreign publishing companies pay to create their own versions of the title, in Korea, Pakistan, Poland, Japan and Latin America. With the new deals, Empirical will do the legwork to forge the licensing partnerships and take a cut of the revenue. A spokesperson for Newsweek declined to specify what the split would be.

Etienne Uzac, co-founder and chief executive of IBT Media, which bought Newsweek from Barry Diller's IAC for an undisclosed sum last summer, said in a statement that the company is "seeing increasing interest in our editorial since the brand's re-launch in the U.S. and Europe" earlier this year, when Newsweek came back in print following a year-long period during which its previous managers ran it as a digital-only title due to a poor financial outlook and diminished advertising revenues.

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The magazine now relies on premium circulation revenues at a much lower scale—IBT Media has said it hopes to capture 100,000 subscribers in the first year, compared with the more than 3 million print readers Newsweek enjoyed at its peak. And the company, which also owns The International Business Times and various other digital properties, is banking on its enduring global brand value.

"We see a significant opportunity to grow the brand's footprint internationally," said Uzac.

While IBT is confident Newsweek will break into the black under its new business plan, the title has been a famously money-losing proposition in recent years, reportedly hemorrhaging tens of millions of dollars.

The foreign partnerships, however, have been a bright spot on the books, according to sources familiar with the matter. IBT Media is a private company and does not disclose its financials, but sources have estimated that each licensing deal brings in at least a million dollars or so in annual revenue.