ESPN is ending the print circulation in September, as was first reported by John Ourand in Sports Business Journal. The magazine had been in print since 1998, but according to Ourand had lost a lot of money in recent years.
This move is not altogether surprising. Print newspapers and magazines have been yielding market share to digital for over two decades now. ESPN the Mag as a biweekly publication continued to produce a lot of great writing, but you’d read it online in real-time and by the time the bi-weekly publication hit mailboxes and newsstands the proverbial conversation was onto something new.
ESPN sent the following statement to SBJ:
“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. … Our data shows the vast majority of readers already consume our print journalism on digital platforms, and this approach will maximize our reach and impact.”
Last August, I inquired if the ESPN the Magazine print edition was vulnerable after they merged subscribers of ESPN Insider and ESPN+, and received the following response from ESPN spokesperson Paul Melvin:
“Storytelling is central to what we do and ESPN The Magazine drives some of the best sports writing and storytelling in the world. The Magazine has just enjoyed its finest creative year and we’re looking forward to a tremendous 20th year of more award-winning narratives, features, imagery and reporting.”
These storytelling features will still be a part of ESPN, but will be on TV and online.