ESPN The Magazine Will Shutter After the Release of the September 2019 Body Issue

Company will focus on 'differentiated print formats' instead

ESPN Magazine's September issue will be its last. ESPN
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It’s four months into the year, and the industry is losing another print publication. This time around it’s ESPN The Magazine.

“Our journalists will continue to create the same exceptional content. Consumer habits are evolving rapidly, and this requires ESPN to evolve as well,” ESPN said in a statement.

The magazine’s September Body Issue will be its last, though the company will explore “differentiated print formats” for other big series, such as the Body Issue, the company said.

When deciding to shutter a magazine’s print product, other magazine publishers have vowed to publish at least some print issues to capitalize on big magazine themes and retain advertising dollars. Meredith has said it will print special issues for newsstands for Coastal Living, Hearst will print special issues for Seventeen and Condé Nast has said it will do the same for Glamour, likely around its Women of the Year event.

“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,” according to the statement.

ESPN The Magazine had a paid circulation of 1.9 million in December last year, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. The company said that no layoffs are planned at this time.

The publication launched in 1998 and has won over 100 awards, including ASME’s General Excellence Award in 2017.

Alison Overholt, who has led the title as its editor in chief since Feburary 2016, was the first woman to lead a major national sports publication.

The title earned a spot on Adweek’s 2018 Hot List for Hottest Sports Magazine and was recognized for its sizable cross-platform audience, including gamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevin on the cover for the first time in a bid to pique the interests of Gen Z and the like and its 10th annual Body Issue.

It’s a tough time for printed sports media. Meredith hasn’t sold Sports Illustrated despite unloading both Time and Fortune brands after it acquired Time Inc. Meredith company executives have said they’re still pursuing a buyer for the title.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.