A sporting chance: the highly targeted free men's weekly

The publishers of a new free men's weekly believe its launch could herald the start of a new sector in UK magazine publishing.

Publishers Sport Media and Strategy will launch Sport magazine on Friday 29 September as an up-market weekly free glossy targeting an 18- to 40-year-old ABC1 readership.

Greg Miall, Sport's UK publishing director, who previously worked in global sales at free newspaper group Metro International, said the free model offered many advantages over paid-for titles and that the latter were not targeted enough in their circulation strategies.

Miall said: "You have two options. There's the traditional print model, which is a paid-for product [where] you chuck £10 million at it in terms of marketing budget and you market it to the whole of the UK — that's 60 million people [but you're] aiming to sell your magazine to basically 200,000 people. If you look at GQ, Men's Health, or even Zoo and Nuts — there's a hell of a lot of marketing money put in to sell a number of copies that is not huge in relation to the amount of people you are marketing to.

"The other option is free and free is not just handing out to anyone. You really target who you're handing out to.

You're achieving a demographic and circulation for your advertisers. The thing about free is that you can target your demographic much more accurately than with a paid-for model.

He added: "We'd like to see this as potentially the launch of a whole new sector in the UK, but let's wait and see."

Sport will be hand-delivered between 7am and 9.30am on Fridays at 94 London Underground stations, 20 train stations, 333 gyms, sports clubs and major company headquarters — selected for being the highest ABC1 demographic locations in London — plus through exclusive airline partnerships with British Airways, Virgin and BMI.

Miall said that by eliminating Underground stations with a lower demographic "your ABC1 percentage immediately goes up to 75 per cent".

Sport is based on a French title, launched in March 2004, which the publisher claimed had become the leading male magazine and was profitable after 20 months.

The UK launch is backed by £7 million from international media investors and the UK-based Complete Leisure Group. 350,000 copies will be distributed for an initial London launch, with a national rollout within the first six months.

Sport will be a 48-page magazine divided into two halves. The first previews views the big sporting fixtures for the weekend ahead and the second includes lifestyle features on interests such as fitness, gadgets and cars.

On the decision to focus on sport in a men's title, Miall said: "Of all the things guys are interested in, that's the biggest one unless you go down the Zoo route of T&A [tits and arse]. Advertisers don't want to go into that product because it's a different demographic. Advertisers want a quality product that brands will stand in and from a reader perspective, sport is the most interesting area."

Sport will have a editorial team of ten plus freelances and is headed up by Simon Caney, ex-editor of Emap's Match and Golf Weekly, who also worked on the launch of Zoo Weekly in Australia.

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