Walsh attributes the success of ESPN The Magazine to four factors: the ESPN brand, its business model, the editorial direction and cross-promotion from ESPN’s cable networks. Viewers don’t need to watch SportsCenter for very long before hearing an anchor mention that an athlete featured in a highlight is also spotlighted in the current or upcoming issue of ESPN. Reporters from the magazine appear frequently on ESPN, and ESPN anchors Stuart Scott and Dan Patrick are regular contributors to the magazine. “If Dante Hall is on the cover of ESPN The Magazine and [his team] the Kansas City Chiefs are playing in the Sunday night [ESPN football] game, and we’re going to talk about Dante Hall, yes, it’s appropriate to point that out,” Walsh said. “But if some other players were on the cover, and they’re not playing in the game, we probably don’t.” While Sports Illustrated focuses much of its weekly issues on covering the previous week’s news, ESPN The Magazine contains more features, columns and some Maxim-style Q&As.
Sidenote: This reminds me of an earlier discussion of “branded media” vs. “custom media” along a continuum of “what is custom publishing.”
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