The Indian avtaar of the popular American sports magazine, Sports Illustrated will hit the Indian newsstands on 5 October. The 55 year old sports magazine from the Time Warner group will be launched by Dennis Media Transasia under a licensing agreement with the American media conglomerate.
Dennis Media Transasia is a 50-50 joint venture between the UK based Dennis Media and the Indian magazine publisher Media Transasia which already publishes the music magazine Blender and men’s magazine, Maxim. Richard Downey, Publishing Director, Dennis Media Transasia said that Sports Illustrated, which sells 23 million copies a week in the US, will be launched as a monthly with a print run of one lakh copies.
Sports Illustrated plans to enter the Indian market with a cover price of Rs100 and compete with the existing sports magazine like Sports Star from the Hindu Group and All Sports from the Essel group. According to Sunand Bhojani, publisher, All Sports, the total circulation of the two magazines does not exceed 100,000 copies. “We find it difficult to sell All Sports at Rs50, it is diffcult to see how Sports Illustated will sell at Rs100. The iconic brand name may work for advertisers but it might not go down as well with the Indian readers,” he said. However, the market for sports magazine is expected to grow thanks to the new-found interest of the corporates in different sports, he added.
Sports Illustarted will be targeted at the urban male aged between 25-45 years. Downey said the magazine is depending on in-depth sports analysis to draw readers interested in a range of sports such as golf, football, Formula One and cricket. Cricketer Sourav Ganguli and golfer Shiv Kapur have been roped in to write columns for the magazine. Manas Misra, Country Head at the media agency Mudra Connext said that “Sports Illustrated is definitely a good option for advertisers who are looking for sports as a medium to reach out to men in general and not only sports companies.” But Adhiraj SIngh, polo player and chief executive officer at Equisport Management Pvt. Ltd, a New Delhi-based sports management and marketing company feels that Sports Illustrated will have to do something very different to appeal to the Indian reader since India is dominated by cricket
To market and promote the magazine, Downey has earmarked Rs50 lakh. “We have signed an exclusive distribution deal with Reebok where it will showcase and retail our magazine through its outlets. We will launch our print and television campaign soon,” he said. The Sports Illustrated India website is also in the works, he informed.
According to Indian Media Marketing Report 2009 by media buying agency Group M, advertisting revenues from magazines in India stood at Rs850 crore and are expected to decline. Magazines are expected to close the year at Rs814 crore.