Until a list of SportsCenter viewers is developed, marketers can reach fans of irreverent anchors Dan Patrick, Chris Berman and others through the subscriber list of ESPN Magazine. The list was introduced last month by the Lake Group, Rye, NY.
Skeptics who see ESPN Magazine as a clone of Sports Illustrated ignore the demographics. While the typical Sports Illustrated reader is in his late 30s and married with children, ESPN appeals to the younger Generation X audience of 18- to 34-year-old males that created the extreme sports scene as snowboarders and in-line skaters.
ESPN Magazine comes out biweekly and takes an in-depth preview approach to sporting events and the personalities involved. Through continual TV, direct mail and Internet advertising, the publication expects to increase its rate base circulation to 700,000 by January and 850,000 by next July.
“[Reaction] has been extremely positive both from consumers and advertisers,'' said ESPN Magazine circulation director Tom Slater. “It's an authoritative voice with a fun attitude as a brand.''
The file came to market just five months after its launch and contains more than 334,000 subscribers. Robert Sanchez, Lake Group vice president of list management sales, expects the growth of the file to keep pace with its expanding circulation. The ESPN brand is a good fit with the Lake Group's other Disney publications — Disney Magazine, Discover Magazine — and gives credibility to its other consumer titles.
“You don't see many new launches that get this type of attention in publishing,'' Sanchez said. “ESPN has a unique audience that is obsessed with sports and has an upscale demographic. That's a powerful combination, and the market has been real receptive so far.''
The file will be enhanced as the universe increases to between 400,000 and 500,000, which Sanchez said should come by the end of year.