'ESPN The Magazine' to end print version this year

By SportsFOXBusiness

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ESPN will discontinue the print version of “ESPN the Magazine” in September after a 21-year run and shift to a digital-only format, the company confirmed on Tuesday.

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Disney’s cable sports network said the reorganization would not result in any immediate layoffs, though it will examine individual roles in the coming months. Ultimately, ESPN may cut a handful of production roles, but editorial staffers are already active on digital platforms and should be largely unaffected by the change, a source said.

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“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 only change here is that we are moving away from printing it on paper and sending it in the mail, following September’s release of "The Body Issue". 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.”

ESPN said it could release special editions of “ESPN The Magazine” in the future, such as its annual “Body Issue”.  Sports Business Journal was first to report the decision.

ESPN has undergone a widespread reorganization in recent years as it contends with a loss of paid subscribers to the cord-cutting trend. The network has conducted several rounds of layoffs, most of which have affected employees on the broadcast side.

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"ESPN The Magazine" launched in 1998 and has circulated on a monthly basis ever since. The publication was not profitable, and a source told Sports Business Journal that it “was not close to a break-even proposition” in recent years.

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