No, Massive LeBron James Coverage Couldn't Sell a New National Sports Magazine
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have successfully pushed the Miami Heat four wins away from the NBA Finals, but a magazine betting on 20 pages of monthly Heat coverage to fuel its national growth found less success.
Last August the Miami-based founders of The Source and Hip Hop Weekly devoted almost the whole first issue of Skyboxx magazine to Mr. James, whose old Cavaliers uniform on the cover could be peeled away to reveal a Heat jersey beneath. They planned to devote major chunks, at least 20 pages, of every subsequent issue to the Heat, a team that they hoped would attract a strong national following.
The magazine would also include significant style and lifestyle coverage, a bid to attract women better than sports magazines frequently do.
"The Miami Heat are poised to become a franchise on the level of the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, the Showtime Lakers of the '80s -- teams that have broad appeal, that have followings beyond their local markets," David Mays, publisher of Hip Hop Weekly, told Ad Age last summer.
Mr. James was demonized by many basketball fans after ostentatiously abandoning Cleveland for Miami, of course, and the new-look Heat played poorly for stretches, but both emerged from the season looking good, as fans gave Mr. James the top-selling jersey for the first time since his 2004 rookie season and the Heat began the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday.
Skyboxx, however, didn't get past issue one. "The first issue didn't do that well, so we decided to hold off on it," said Judith Mays, associate publisher at Hip Hop Weekly.
"We are testing out various concepts to extend the reach of the brand, which has become powerful in the world of hip hop, and Skyboxx was one such concept since sports is an important part of our content," Ms. Mays said.
Hip Hop Weekly's latest extension comes this month with the "Hard Rock 12" special issue and May 26 event in Hollywood, Fla., honoring hot new artists and produced in collaboration with WorldStarHipHop.com.