Sanoma puts in a reef; Zeilen mag fate unclear
AMSTERDAM _ The internet age is unkind to mainstream media. To niche market operators _ like yachting mags _ it is downright cruel. Ask Finland’s Sanoma Group. It is shedding no fewer than 32 of its 49 Dutch consumer titles to regain profitability. They include the monthly ‘Zeilen’ (circ: 20,000).
Zeilen has 1 year to find a new home. Editor Cees van Dijk put a brave face on things. “We’ll soon be packing up and unpacking elsewhere. Except we don’t yet know the new address,” he wrote in his December issue. He signaled that Zeilen has ambitious plans, including publishing English-language content online.
The magazine’s disappearance would be a big loss. A quality source of yachting news, it publishes detailed boat and product reviews (the December issue devotes 9 pages to tests of 5 brands of winches) and prints the exploits of Dutch round-the-world sailors. Key rivals are the online ‘Zilt’ and De Waterkampioen, a print monthly on canvas and motor-powered boating.
Sanoma (10,000 employees worldwide) wants to save €100 million and focus on digital media. “New technologies are fundamentally changing the behavior of media consumers,” says CEO Harri-Pekka Kaukonen. He is hanging on to 17 Dutch titles, outfits active in women’s issues, home decoration and other areas that work well in multimedia.
Zeilen does not. It works the teeny-weeny niche of sailing enthusiasts in the Netherlands and Dutch-speaking Belgium. Van Dijk promises his readers a beefier online presence: new ‘digital specials’ on boating regions, technical topics, boat tests as well as online English-language content .