60 Years of TV Guide

Although today's generation might not appreciate it, TV Guide is still around and celebrating 60 years as the premiere television magazine in the country.  Originally one of many regional publications that listed the programming available on local broadcasts, the magazine went national in 1953 with its first issue featuring the now historic image of Lucille Ball's baby, a defining moment on I Love Lucy. Mirroring the evolution of the TV landscape, TV Guide has undergone many changes itself.

For many decades, it was a common household item in every living room, serving as a go-to reference for viewers who wanted to know what was on the air at what time. It was a lot simpler back when there were only a handful of major networks and a few, if any, local channels depending on where you lived. The proliferation of cable and satellite channels made the programming grids and listings expand exponentially, making it hard to keep up on the small printed page.  Now, with most television carriers offering their own interactive, customizable, on-screen programming menus, the need for a hardcopy weekly publication to serve that purpose is almost obsolete.

I used to love the old TV Guide, eagerly awaiting its annual Fall Preview issue. It wasn't just a compilation of listings, it also had some informative and fun entertainment articles, with news, interviews, reviews, and more. I remember skimming through the collection of old issues that our research director stored at my old job at DLT Entertainment, soaking in the history of the TV medium that was chronicled in those pages. It was the Entertainment Weekly of its day.  At its peak in 1970 the magazine had almost 20 million subscribers. Today, though nowhere near its glory days, it still has over 2 million.

In recent years, it switched from its old digest size to a larger, glossier format, trying to reinforce its identity as a magazine rather than a program listing dinosaur. It has also stretched its brand to include a popular podcast, some TV specials, its own television network, and a successful Web site. It makes sense that people looking for digital content about their favorite programs can now seek out synopses, recaps, images, videos, and more online, all of which can no longer be sufficiently contained on the printed page.

TV Guide plans a number of celebratory acknowledgements of its milestone anniversary throughout the year.  May it have many more years to come in whichever iteration the future might hold.

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