Weak Magazine Economy Cited; 45 Staffers to Be Absorbed

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Magazine victims of the sustained ad downturn continue to mount, as Time Inc. today announced it was closing its eight-times-a-year Sports Illustrated offshoot Sports Illustrated for Women. Its December issue will be its last.

Referring to the still-troubled magazine economy, Sports Illustrated President Bruce Hallett attributed the decision to the "investment climate" inside the company and within the magazine world, which he said was "about as bad as it can get." In a prepared statement, the company said it would seek to place the title's 45 staffers elsewhere within the company.

Ad pages down
SI for Women, which was unprofitable, first appeared in 1997 with two test issues, but Time Inc. did not publish the title in 1998. It next appeared with four quarterly issues in 1999, and the title launched as a bimonthly in March 2000. Through September of this year, its ad pages were 210.3, down 4.9%. The title did not have its readership audited, but the company claimed circulation of about 400,000.

That's less than half of the circulation of SI for Kids, the first brand extension launched off the company's phenomenally successful Sports Illustrated. SI for Kids' circulation for the first half of 2002 was 987,000, of which 774,000 is paid, according to BPA International. SI for Kids debuted in 1989. Through September, SI for Kids' ad pages were down 6.7% to 244.4, and for the first half of the

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year its circulation was more than double SI for Women's.

Identity issues
SI for Women's history reflects the confused ways in which major magazine companies have tried to reach a mass market of athletic-minded -- as opposed to fitness-minded -- women. Early on, it was aimed more at women's sports participants, before revamping with a broader focus. Conde Nast Publications shuttered its effort for this market, Women's Sports and Fitness, in 2000.

Last week Time Inc. closed Mutual Funds, and closed the New York outpost of its U.K.-based shelter/lifestyle magazine Wallpaper, according to an individual familiar with the matter. A spokeswoman for Time Inc.'s IPC unit, which publishes Wallpaper, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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