Fuego: Interesting piece in Multichannel News about why ESPN succeeded in extending its brand into print while so many other cable companies failed (Biography, Lifetime, IFC Rant).


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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(via iwantmedia.com)

5 thoughts on “Fuego

  1. The thing that the article fails to mention in the magazine’s business model is that every ESPN Insider subscriber also gets a free subscription to the magazine. I wonder how much that inflates their circulation numbers.

  2. Good point. And I wonder how those numbers are treated in the magazine’s circulation audit? As paid? Or, paid, same address?

  3. Ooh those are both good questions.

    I subscribed to both ESPN and SI for a long time and now I have just SI. I was sorry to unsub to ESPN but I wasn’t enough of a sports consumer to justify it. It is a GREAT magazine but it is definitely aimed toward those who want the what should I call it — ah, it’s the Vanity Fair of sports. Lots of brain candy and pretty pictures, plus plenty to make you think stuffed in between. And it is definitely hip and well-marketed. Kudos all around.

    In the end, I love Rick Reilly a lot and when I felt it was time to pick, I did.

  4. Hey guys,
    I’ve actually written an article about ESPN the Mag… they claimed that they created the Mag not as a direct competitor with SI, but as more of a lifestyle mag… i.e the Rolling Stone of Sports. This is why the size and quality of paper is identical to RS. This is also why you see multi-media stars (rap stars, comedians) on the cover and in the pages of ESPN. They definitely are hitting the younger, hipper generation. However, SI has come out with SI on Campus, a free pub distributed in college newspapers. Good marketing gimmick to establish brand loyalty early.

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