Sporting News executives told readers today that the magazine will go all digital on Jan. 1, ending a 126-year run in print.
They had already cut its longstanding weekly frequency back to every other week in September 2008 and again to monthly in November 2011 -- when it foreshadowed today's news by ceasing to accept new subscribers.
"Having spoken with many of our longtime subscribers, we recognize this is not a popular decision among our most loyal fans," said Jeff Price, president and publisher, and Garry Howard, editor-in-chief, in a post on the Sporting News website pointing readers to mostly free content on its website and mobile and tablet apps. "Unfortunately, neither our subscriber base nor the current advertising market for print would allow us to operate a profitable print business going forward."
"Whether it's sports or news it's still a difficult proposition to try and be profitable in an ink and paper business," Mr. Howard said in a phone interview. "Digital is where it's at."
"Right now we're reaching far more avid readers than we have at any point in our history," he added.
Sporting News does not anticipate charging for the majority of its digital content, Mr. Howard said. "Having a free app has proven we can deliver sports news on a daily basis around the clock and it will be a profitable because the advertising is behind it," he said.
The company will continue to publish six themed newsstand specials on subjects such as baseball, football and college basketball. Current subscribers may request refunds, Mr. Price and Mr. Howard said in their post. Subscribers who don't reach out will be sent the newsstand specials until their account balances are exhausted.
American City Business Journals, part of Advance Publications, bought Sporting News in 2006. Advance has been reducing the print frequency at newspapers including the New Orleans Times-Picayune and, effective next month, The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa.
The change for Sporting News comes as Newsweek, another longtime print weekly, prepares to publish its final regular print edition later this month.