Women gets ax
Time Inc.: Needed too much more investment
When Sports Illustrated Women was launched in March 2000, it seemed to make lots of sense: a smart spinoff of the nation's top sports weekly targeting a new generation of women who took their sports seriously, both as spectators and players.
But while the title would come closer to that vision under managing editor Susan Casey, it never really caught with readers and advertisers to the degree that Time Inc. had hoped.
Yesterday Time Inc. president Anne Moore pulled the plug on the 400,000-circulation title.
December's issue will the the last for the 10-times-a-year title.
"SI Women needed a significant investment to reach its potential," Moore said in a statement yesterday afternoon as word of the closing spread through the media community. "The investment climate was simply not on our side."
This is the second title Moore has recently shuttered. Mutual Funds, a four-year-old personal investment title, was closed just a week ago, as part of a review of Time Inc. titles and their prospects in this still-grim ad economy for magazines.
After the web, magazines have been the slowest to recover from the ad downturn that began in early 2001. Magazine ad revenues are expected to finish the year down by 5 percent, according to media forecaster Jack Myers, and are expected to rise no more than 2 percent in 2003 and 3 percent in 2004.
Against the frosty future, a number of publishers are examining their weaker titles, and magazine industry observers expect to see a string of similar closures announced through the end of the year.
Sports Illustrated Women's demise follows that of Women's Sports & Fitness in June of 2000, a Conde Nast title that went through some of the same struggles over how the magazine should be positioned.
While women's fitness titles have been around for years, and done well, the challenge for Time Inc. was to step beyond to create a magazine read by women athletes, runners, golfers, swimmers and soccer players, and that proved daunting.
Marketing folks pointed out that the number of young women who played high school sports had risen from one in 27 in 1971 to one for every 2.5 by 1998, with 11 million women 18 to 34 playing sports two or more times per week.
How do you create a magazine that appeals to golfers but also builds readership among women who compete in triathlons?
The quick answer seemed to be: You don't. It also now appears to be the long answer.
Against that challenge, Sports Illustrated Women went through several incarnations, the most recent under Casey, a former top editor at Outside who came on in the spring of 2001 with the mission of revamping that magazine, then known as Sports Illustrated for Women.
Casey's approach was a mix of spectator and participant stories, along with some adventure--underwater cave diving was one feature--along with sports fashions and some beauty tips. The magazine was nominated for a National Magazine Award for general excellence earlier this year.
October 17, 2002© 2002 Media Life