Media Analysis: Cricket titles reflect booming sport

As England and Australia's cricketers begin the most keenly anticipated Ashes series in years, Dan Bloch casts an eye over cricket lovers' magazines and looks at how PROs can achieve coverage in the titles.

England's recent test successes, the emergence of marketable England players such as Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen, and the development of the hugely popular 20/20 game, have meant cricket has developed a feel-good factor.

'Our readership is getting younger,' says John Stern, The Wisden Cricketer editor. He adds: 'Asian subscriptions and interest in us from Asian broadcast media is growing.'

After declining sales forced Wisden Cricket Monthly and The Cricketer to merge in 2003, the media market for the sport now looks more buoyant.

The Professional Cricketers' Association title Cricnet rebranded as All Out Cricket last April and increased its frequency from quarterly to monthly.

This February saw the launch of new title Spin - the magazine that, in name at least, is sure to excite PRO interest.

England Cricket Board head of corporate comms Colin Gibson describes the three main cricket titles as of 'great value'. He says: 'Cricket lovers want more than the daily diet that they are fed by the newspapers.'

'They are important for us to be in communication with viewers and potential viewers,' says a spokesman for Sky Sports, the England test match broadcaster.

This year Sky began covering a league of village teams, sponsored by npower. It provides the magazines with commentator interviews, gives them access to former players and organises regular competitions.

'We use the magazines because they are read by fans and we know we can target them with promotions and competitions,' explains npower brand PR manager Sue Newton.

While the titles attract a small market of young consumers, they should move further into the mainstream, according to Kohler Communications director Rod Kohler, whose clients include Aussie coach John Buchanan.

'The cricket magazines need to write challenging articles with an interesting angle on cricket, as Spin is doing,' he says.

He adds that this will allow them to boost circulation, and give PROs more opportunities for 'the ultimate crossover' into a more diverse audience.

THE WISDEN CRICKETER Publisher: Wisden Group Editor: John Stern Circulation: 36,000 Frequency: Monthly Contact:

Define your readership

The average age of our readers is 40. There are some die-hard county followers, but the majority are England supporters. The demographic is 75 per cent male ABC1.

What's different about your title?

We have the best writers from around the world, and we are always looking to go deeper than the newspapers. We run interviews, but we want to get behind the headlines, inside the personalities, and not follow the agenda of the day.

Do you break stories?

We ran a story in the June issue investigating why ticket touting wasn't illegal for cricket but is for football. The ECB is discussing the issue with the Government and the opposition tabled a question on it.

Any advice for PROs?

If a player is endorsing a product, what is valuable to us is an exclusive interview and a photoshoot.

SPIN Publisher: Future Editor: Duncan Steer Circulation: Around 20,000 Frequency: Monthly Contact:

How much of your content comes through PROs?

Not much. Maybe about ten to 15 per cent.

Why should they target Spin?

We have a younger audience than the other magazines - they play cricket, drink and go on holiday and are more likely than average to buy records.

If you're promoting something not directly related to cricket to a young sporty audience, this is your home.

What non-cricket related content do you carry?

Lifestyle interviews with players, little graphic spoofs to make people laugh, gadget reviews and travel features from a cricketing perspective.

Cricket fans like more than just cricket.

How should PROs contact you?

They can contact me, any time. We have no set deadlines.

ALL OUT CRICKET Publisher: TriNorth with PCA/Costcutter Editor: Andy Afford Circulation: 30,000 Frequency: Monthly Contact:

Tell us about the magazine

It's lighter than the mainstream, aimed mainly at blokes who go to test matches, aged 14-40. But we do feature women's cricket and we get lots of letters from women and girls.

What about the content?

Feature-heavy and irreverent. We like lifestyle features that get players away from the pitch. We do product tests, opinion pieces and once-in-a-lifetime competitions.

What makes you stand out?

We are part-owned by the Professional Cricketers' Association, so we get good access to test players, who will do stuff for us. The other magazines tend to write about them - we get feature-length interviews with them and photos.

How are you useful to PROs?

Brands can reach people with a few quid to spend, who are used to spending money on cricket and through it.

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