Game on as weekly football titles battle for young fans

The youth football magazine market has seen a massive shake-up this week as IPC’s Shoot switched from monthly to weekly in reaction to BBC Magazines announcing the launch of a weekly Match of the Day magazine.

Bauer Consumer Media’s market leader Match, formerly the only weekly title, reacted to the new competition by slashing its cover price on Tuesday this week to 99p to compete with Shoot’s first weekly offering, priced at £1.80, down from the monthly price of £3.10.

Match has a circulation of 113,049, while Shoot saw a circulation turnaround in the ABC report in February – up seven per cent after a decline from nearly 120,000 in 1996 to 33,455 for the first half of 2007 – thanks to a major redesign in October, despite it only covering two issues. Shoot was weekly for almost 20 years, originally battling with Match in the mid-Nineties.

Frank Tennyson, editor of Shoot, said that copy sales of the two redesigned issues gave them the confidence to return to weekly distribution, a move that was always on the agenda, but had to be brought forward on the announcement of the MOTD magazine.

He said: ‘I think it’s really exciting, Match owned that market for a while. There’s a real buzz about it in the marketplace – the football market is thriving again from the doldrums of the 1990s. All football magazines were hurt by the decision of the newspapers to do supplements – be it kids or adults – and then the rise of the internet. All mags have to realise that we have to offer something different, especially in the kids’ market. ‘

The BBC’s MOTD magazine launches on 4 March and is targeting the same age group, but according to publisher Duncan Gray will have an increased focus on tips and skills.

Gray said: ‘I think it’s going to be an interesting few months. Match has been doing very well as a weekly product, and is one of the biggest titles in the youth market, but it has been the only title serving this audience on a weekly basis.

‘We identified some time ago that there was a great opportunity here and we’re one, if not the biggest player, in the youth market so it was an obvious move for us to make.’

Gray rubbished criticism by Shoot publisher Hamish Dawson that MOTD appealed to a much older audience and that programme presenter Gary Lineker was ‘no spring chicken”.

He pointed to research done by Swapits Rewards & Research, which asked 1,100 young people aged eight to 17 what they think about TV and radio, and reported that Lineker was the most popular TV presenter for boys and that MOTD was the third most popular programme for boys behind The Simpsons and Top Gear.

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