On paper, it’s over for ESPN The Magazine.
ESPN announced Tuesday it will cease publication of the biweekly it launched in 1998 with a forward-looking format that had little use for just-occurred games and events commonly covered by rivals such as Sports Illustrated.
The Disney-owned sports media outlet plans to redirect the magazine’s features and reporting efforts to digital platforms, where it said “the vast majority of readers already consume our print journalism.”
“Our journalists will continue to create the same exceptional content,” ESPN said in a statement. “Consumer habits are evolving rapidly, and this requires ESPN to evolve as well. The only change here is that we are moving away from printing it on paper and sending it in the mail, following September’s release of The Body Issue.”
ESPN left open the idea of “releasing tentpole collections such as Body in special, differentiated print formats” but made no commitments. (The Body issue is ESPN’s answer to Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, showcasing athletes’ toned bodies.)
James A. Miller, co-author of “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,” reported on Twitter that the publication had become unprofitable and its future had “been in jeopardy for years.”
John Ourand, breaking the news of the magazine’s demise in the Sports Business Daily, reported there were no immediate layoffs but “a handful of print/publishing/circulation employees” likely will be dismissed later this year.
Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated owner Meredith is in the process of trying to sell that magazine. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that licensing company Authentic Brands Group — owner of Nautica, Juicy Couture and Nine West — emerged as a leading contender to acquire the magazine.