Autoweek has been a voice in car culture and motorsports with a print edition that’s been around, in one form or another, since 1958. But on Monday, its owner, Detroit-based Crain Communications, said it had struck a multi-year agreement with Hearst Magazines to operate Autoweek as a “digital and experiential brand.” Autoweek’s bimonthly print mag is ending as a consequence.
Hearst Magazines has entered a multi-year licensing deal with Crain Communications to operate the digital and experiential businesses of Autoweek.
Crain will cease publishing the print product, which was produced twice a month.
“As Crain continues to grow its B2B footprint, we felt Hearst was a perfect fit for our only consumer brand,” stated Crain Communications president-COO KC Crain.
It’s somewhat unusual in that this isn’t an outright purchase of Autoweek, but a licensing deal to “operate” the publication.
I emailed Crain Communications and Hearst for confirmation of the print mag’s demise, but neither immediately responded with comment. But sources with knowledge of the situation, who requested anonymity due to not being authorized to speak publicly, confirmed the magazine is in fact dead.
Hearst said it was appointing Patrick Carone, who is currently head of special projects at Hearst Autos, to “oversee all content and digital initiatives across Autoweek.” Autoweek’s current publisher, Rory Carroll, will be staying at Crain in a new role.
Hearst Autos includes Car and Driver and Road & Track. It’s not exactly clear how Autoweek is to fit into that stable of brands, although like Autoweek both of those magazines aim their content at enthusiasts, while Crain publications exist in the business-to-business realm—Automotive News chief among them.
Still, what was always attractive to me about Autoweek was exactly that, that it didn’t feel like any other Crain publication, and seemed to exist on its own island. It’s a reliable, sober, classy source of car stories, and I hope it stays that way, even if it’s digital-only.
Crain and Hearst did not immediately respond when asked if either company anticipated layoffs, or when the last print edition of Autoweek would be. In its release, Crain said the deal was “effective immediately.”
While it remains to see what kind of steward Hearst will be for this storied brand, 2019, in general, has been a rough year in the media business, with Sports Illustrated under deeply questionable new ownership, the UK’s Autosport hiking print prices as it focuses on its digital arm and private equity firms wreaking havoc at a variety of publications.