ESPN Magazine to Go Web-Only as Part of Shake-Up in Sports Media

(Bloomberg) -- ESPN the Magazine is now the latest publication to abandon print.

Regular editions will cease after the September release of “The Body Issue” and the publication will go online-only, Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN said in a statement.

“Consumer habits are evolving rapidly, and this requires ESPN to evolve as well,” the statement said. “The only change here is that we are moving away from printing it on paper and sending it in the mail.”

The move is part of a broader shake-up in sports media. Meredith Corp. has been trying to sell Sports Illustrated after taking over the magazine as part of its acquisition of Time Inc. Licensing company Authentic Brands Group LLC is a leading contender to buy that magazine, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

More broadly, magazines have been abandoning their print editions to cut costs, helping them cope with the loss of advertising revenue to tech giants like Facebook and Google. Conde Nast’s Glamour announced in November that it would end its regular print publication.

Sports magazines also are facing increased competition from numerous digital upstarts like Bleacher Report, SB Nation, the Athletic, Deadspin and the Ringer.

ESPN said its data shows “the vast majority of readers already consume our print journalism on digital platforms, and this approach will maximize our reach and impact.”

The ESPN magazine published its first issue in 1998 as a print offshoot of Disney’s successful cable sports network. Former ESPN President John Skipper, who spent his early career at Rolling Stone and Spin, helped start the publication.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.