The Guardian is weighing into the current sports-based circulation war
with the launch on Friday of Sport 96, a 24-page tabloid to be published
weekly throughout the summer.
The launch follows the introduction this week of a regular eight-page
sports pull-out in the Monday Guardian.
All of the paper’s broadsheet rivals, the Daily Telegraph, the Times and
the Independent, have cut their cover price to 10p on Mondays. The
Telegraph and the Times are also running ads highlighting their sports
coverage. However, the Guardian will continue to charge 45p.
The Guardian’s initiative is likely to put the launch of the planned
sports daily, Sports First, under further pressure - it has already
delayed its launch once.
Also, last week the planned Sunday sports title, Soccer on Sunday,
delayed its launch until next year.
Bill Jones, the deputy chairman of MediaCom, is not confident that
either publication will appear. ‘I don’t think it makes a lot of sense
to pin all of your hopes on one specialist area,’ he said. ‘The past few
weeks have seen two ill-conceived launches, one of which has already
Stephen Palmer, the marketing director of the Guardian, said Sport 96
will capitalise on people’s anticipation of sporting events at the
weekend. ‘Half of the thrill is the build-up - be it Wimbledon or the
Oly-mpics,’ he said. ‘Sport 96 is aimed at more than just the sports
fanatic - it will also target people whose imagination has been caught
by Euro 96 and those who want to follow events through the summer.’
Sport 96 will carry features, profiles and interviews by Guardian
writers, including Matthew Engel and David Lacey. It will be edited by
the paper’s media editor, John Mulholland.