Source: Fairfield County Business Journal
World Wrestling Entertainment in Stamford has chucked out its two fan magazines and created another one that promises to show its 14 million fans “behind-the-scenes” lifestyles of its grapplers.
WWE magazine launched on July 11 and will have 13 regular issues a year ($5.99 on newsstands), along with eight more special issues, each to be sold for $6.99 only on newsstands. The initial print run is 250,000 copies, with about half going to subscribers of the former Raw and SmackDown magazines, now defunct.
Bob Lee, the new vice president and publisher of the WWE magazine division, said the publication will have “what fans won’t see on television. The idea here is to look at WWE talent … having them share their tastes and insights into fashion, video games, music, movies – whatever – with our fan base.”
Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer newsletter, said he’s heard reactions to the magazine that are “neither very positive nor very negative.”
“The old style of wrestling magazine had its day,” Meltzer said. The formula of following the same story lines as were used in the ring back to the 1950s and had become too tired, he said. He’s watching to see if the new magazine style, with its “behind -the-scenes” focus, will work.
The magazine relies on lots of photographs of wrestling stars and offers lifestyle articles similar to what can be found in Men’s Health, GQ, or FHM. Features range from weightlifting or health tips based on interviews with a wrestler, to a wrestling “diva’s” recipe for cookies, to short reviews of video games, music and movies.
The format also looks like the “lad magazines” that appeal to young men, with scantily clad women and humor, mildly gross and otherwise. The approach started in Britain and came to America several years ago. Much of the magazine’s demographic, and its target audience, comprises men in their 20s, said Kate Cox, a spokeswoman for WWE.
Tony Silber, editor and publisher of Norwalk-based “Folio” magazine, a publication for magazine executives, said he hasn’t seen the new publication. Lad magazines, he said, “have generally been seen to have peaked and are on the decline. Circulation and ad sales bear it out. My best guess is that they’re sort of played out.”
“You read one issue of Maxim in ’97, and you get the same things you read in 2000 or 2005,” he said.
But lee said WWE will rely on its wrestling angle to succeed with readers. It will use the “lad style” as one way of appealing to them, but the grapplers themselves will be the attraction.
“Unlike other magazines that are appealing to the consumer market, we have a direct pipeline via our televised events to reach this fan base, which is really sort of fanatical about our product.” he said. “They aggressively seek out information about WWE talent … for the first time they’re basically going to see behind the scenes.”
The new magazine’s editor Tony Romando, who edited the defunct Sync magazine, which tried to marry lad style with an interest in gadgets. Romando also worked on Jane, FHM, Rolling Stone, and Men’s Fitness magazines.
The company’s magazine staff has doubled since February, with 20 employees working on the publication in the company’s Stamford headquarters. Another 10 work elsewhere, mostly in advertising sales, Cox said.