Betting on the local angle, a new sports mag debuts

Niche, hyperlocal, microtargeted…

These terms have different meanings, but they all have the same objective in a shaky media environment: appeal to a small, selective and, hopefully, built-in audience to increase your chance of success.

Sometimes it works (think GARDEN & GUN*, FOOD NETWORK MAGAZINE* or DU JOUR*), and sometimes not so much (a moment of silence for PLUM HAMPTONS* and URBAN CLIMBER*).

So, what happens when you add a dash of vanity to the mix?

USA Today Sports Media is making a pitch to local, niche magazine audiences with the debut of PRIME, a new high school football glossy.

While the newspaper’s website already offers a high school sports vertical, USA Today Sports president, Tom Beusse, believes they can harness readers’ personal interest in local prep football stars, and parlay that into print success.

“We realized that we have this tremendous distribution through print around the country,” Beusse is quoted as saying, “so why not create magazines that are essentially keepsakes?”

While the idea of attracting readers through vanity appeal is commonplace—local newspapers have been doing it for decades—it’s a risky and expensive gambit for a national magazine.

Prime was scheduled to debut Labor Day weekend, with 550,000 copies distributed in 11 major media markets, including Washington, DC and Phoenix. Most were included as inserts in Gannett newspapers, and the rest will be available in schools.

The magazine reportedly combines national content, such as rankings and reviews, with local stories and listings.  If it’s a hit, USA Today plans to expand the brand into basketball and other high school sports.

Niche + targeting + vanity…

We’ll see if the equation adds up to a win.


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