Meredith taps digital exec Catherine Levene, 1st woman to lead its mags
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For the first time in its 119-year history, media giant Meredith Corp. has tapped a female executive to lead the nation’s largest magazine division, with titles that include People, Better Homes & Gardens and Martha Stewart Living.
Catherine Levene, 50, only joined Meredith in 2019 as chief strategy officer before getting promoted to chief digital officer. She was promoted to president of the National Media Group division Wednesday.
In her new role, she will oversee print and digital magazines and the consumer products that are branded with titles of the Meredith magazines, which the company claims reach over 140 million women each month. She replaces Jon Werther, who left in June.
Currently, according to Meredith, digital advertising revenue makes up 38 percent of all revenue in fiscal year 2020 that ended June 30.
“This quarter we’re looking for digital advertising to surpass print for the first time,” Levene told Media Ink. “We still have a lot of room to grow. I want to expand revenue of our existing brands and extend their reach onto new platforms.”
The company, which includes more than a dozen TV stations as well as the National Media Group of magazine brands that Levene will head, has been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic that has hurt all media. In its latest quarterly earnings report, the company said its revenue was down $45 to $60 million due to the pandemic.
The company’s shareholders last month approved a plan that would preserve the dual class of stock, with class B shares controlled by the Meredith family, should the company decide to split its magazine and TV station businesses into two separate companies. The company’s stock price has been pummeled since it completed its $2.8 billion acquisition of Time Inc. in January 2018.
Levene has a 25-year career in both legacy media companies and startups. She began her media career in corporate sales at The New York Times Company when it still owned women’s magazines including McCall’s and Family Circle.
She obtained an MBA and returned on the digital side of NYT under then-President Janet Robinson and digital pioneer Martin Nisenholtz. Levene also served a stint as chief operating officer of DailyCandy before Bob Pittman sold it to Comcast, and worked at Firefly, which was sold to Microsoft. Most recently, she started and sold her company Artspace before joining Meredith.
She reports to Meredith Chairman and CEO Tom Harty. The two were long-ago colleagues on New York Times’ magazines.
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