Friday, April 21, 2017

TCM Discontinues Print Edition of Now Playing Guide

Turner Classic Movies is discontinuing the print version of its Now Playing guide.

Clicking on the "magazine" button at the top of the TCM website now takes subscribers to an announcement by Palm Coast, the company which services subscriptions.

The notice says that the print edition will be discontinued as of August 2017, with prorated refunds given to subscribers in July.

In the future there will be a free email version with the printable schedule and some of the same editorial features.

The link regarding the end of the Now Playing guide was shared on TCM's message boards yesterday. After finding the link there, I broke the news to the classic film community on Twitter last evening.

Although the information originated on the TCM website, one wonders if some at TCM were caught off guard by the timing of the Palm Coast news release, as TCM wasn't "out in front" presenting the news to fans. To my knowledge TCM had not made a more formal public announcement with details on the changes, other than the Palm Coast page linked at their site, nor were subscribers contacted concurrent with the news being made public. TCM says direct communication with subscribers will be coming in the future.

This afternoon TCM responded to disappointed subscriber feedback on Twitter with a Tweet saying "Classic film fans, NPG is not going away; it's transitioning to digital with your fave features and more.  Stay tuned for more info."  TCM also Tweeted that it "hopes" to include the crossword puzzle in the new digital edition.

As has often been discussed at TCM Classic Film Festivals, TCM is much more than just a cable station, it's a lifestyle. The Now Playing print guide was an important part of that lifestyle for many of us, who will miss the attractive covers, glossy photos, and having all the month's info in a compact print form sitting next to our TVs. Some TCM fans, such as my friend Jessica, have maintained collections of old guides. Seen here is my collection of Now Playing going back over a decade, always at the ready for research -- and also serving as mementos of countless happy movie memories.

We all know print magazines of all kinds are struggling but for now can only guess that factored into TCM's decision-making process. Now Playing was an outstanding representative of the TCM network in our homes for many, many years, and it's going to be missed.

I'll be watching for future announcements on this topic from TCM and share the information here as it develops.


Blogger SimpleGifts said...

An email version isn't going to do a lot of good for my 95 year old mother and all the other devoted, non-computer using TCM fans of her generation whose days are uplifted by watching the films of their youth. Mom always has her Now Playing guide close at hand. I suspect many other nonagenarian viewers do, as well. I'll have to get my printer ready for the new version for Mom but it won't be the same. Thanks for the news. Jane

4:42 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Jane,

I communicated that very issue in correspondence to TCM. Like you I have people in my life who may (or may not) use a computer for some things but don't live a lifestyle with "smart devices" of all types constantly at hand. TCM fans such as that are likely going to be left behind by the format of the new edition. I don't know if there's anything TCM can do to mitigate that, but I see it as a significant issue.

Thank you for adding your voice regarding this issue!

Best wishes,

5:06 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Such a shame. I like that remark about TCM being a lifestyle. I was just speaking last night with a lady who subscribes faithfully and loves it, really as a leisurely and gracious luxury in her life. I suspect no digital version will replace that sentiment for her.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for that feedback, Jacqueline. I suspect you're correct about the print vs. digital and that many people will have similar feelings.

Best wishes,

7:16 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

This is very sad. While I regrettably never subscribed, it was of interest to me. Money was tight when we got cable in 1995. I'm sure many will miss it.

8:24 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

The era seems to have ended with the decline of Robert Osborne and his death. This is just underlining that point. More to come.

8:26 PM  
Blogger KC said...

And here I was thinking I needed to renew my subscription. I will miss the crossword most of all. Nothing beats doing that with a pen. Digital isn't best for everything, though I realize it is a lot cheaper.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The industry has been suffering for many years and it's surprising that TCM held on for so long. Digital has taken the lead and there will be more to come. Collateral damage will be felt by the Post Office, the printing companies and other behind the scenes companies that have contributed to this publications success. It will be a major adjustment for the generation that makes up the client base. Their adamant desire to reach into the mailbox every month will fade away while sadness intensity increases.

12:36 AM  
Blogger A said...

So disappointing. I have subscribed for years. I can't stand digital magazines. Not just because a device is required, but for many, you can't print them out even if you wanted to.
Just as with books, I want to see and touch it and not have to turn on a device when I want to simply check it. I understand they are following the trend, but I just won't find it nearly as useful. The difference with this publication is not only the lifestyle issues, but the demographics of the subscribers of this magazine. Many are elderly or have health problems. I have vision problems myself, and starring at a screen is pains my eyes. It's a balance of information versus health. The elderly also have expenses to worry about. $12 a year for a guide is much cheaper than Internet access for a year. Everything is just tanking in a post-Osborne era.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you all so much for your feedback on this decision. I think the reactions say a great deal about how special TCM -- and the guide -- have been for us. As I read the May guide this weekend I felt so sad and wish TCM would reconsider its decision, but I suppose time and technology march on whether we're ready or not.

Best wishes,

9:38 AM  

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