SBD/9/Sports Media

A NEW SPORTS CENTER? ESPN THE MAGAZINE TO DEBUT THIS WEEK

          ESPN will televise ESPN The Magazine, at 7:30pm ET on
     Wednesday March 11, a half-hour look at its new magazine
     unit the day before it debuts nationally (ESPN).  NEWSWEEK's
     Richard Turner profiles the magazine's launch, which is a
     "true frontal assault on SI's turf."  ESPN Magazine's "credo
     is a variation on what has been the rap (partly unfair,
     partly out-moded) against SI for decades: too old, too
     white-guy, too country-club.  Your father's magazine, with a
     slightly moralizing tone.  On oversized pages, ESPN will be
     closer to the feel of a Nike ad or MTV.  It will 'celebrate'
     sports and be a fan, not a paunchy, cynical sportswriter." 
     Disney "expects to spend" $75M on the unit, which has a
     first issue guaranteed circulation of 350,000, which Turner
     calls "a good start" (NEWSWEEK, 3/16 issue).
          WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: ESPN Magazine Editor John
     Papanek said the publication will be forward looking and not
     "a news magazine."  Papanek: "We're going to assume the
     readers of our magazine know the results, have seen the
     highlights, seen 'SportsCenter,' heard the analysis"
     (HARTFORD COURANT, 3/8).  In N.Y., Keith Kelly reports that
     ESPN "is aiming" for an average reader of 29-years-old.  It
     will launch with 108 ad pages, "joining an elite group of
     magazines," and hopes to hit 500,000 subscribers by
     September.  While the SI "franchise" today clears more than
     $100M-a-year in profits, insiders say Disney doesn't expect
     to make a profit on the ESPN unit "until 2003" (N.Y. DAILY
     NEWS, 3/9).  Also in N.Y., Paul Tharp puts the magazines ad
     pages at 107 and worth $2M.  Tharp: "Media experts say that
     the oversized format of ESPN will sit on the stands for two
     weeks and could grow stale in the fast-changing world of
     sports" (N.Y. POST, 3/9).  In previewing the launch, Lisa
     Magenheimer cites a recent survey showing that 78% of
     American adults "recognize the name" ESPN and each week 42%
     of all "men tune in to the ESPN network" (TAMPA TRIBUNE,
     3/8).  In publishing weeks, ESPN Magazine will reach
     subscribers on Wednesday and Thursday (L.A. TIMES, 3/8).   
     
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