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A NEW SPORTS CENTER? ESPN THE MAGAZINE TO DEBUT THIS WEEK
Published March 9, 1998
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).