ESPN Body Issue

ESPN Ends Its Print Run

Is Going Digital the Right Choice?

As ESPN released its well-known, annual “Body Issue,” they also announced that this would be the last print edition

Responding to Today’s Reader

From here forward, ESPN The Magazine will be ending its print run, continuing with only digital issues on its multimedia platform. These issues will be published via a monthly cover story, similar to what a print issue would be. They will include extensions such as social media incorporation and other multimedia components. 

For such a large brand to go all-digital points towards an ongoing trend that is happening in the publishing industry. As readership preferences and media consumption change, the publishing industry needs to respond efficiently. As a result, many brands have moved to digital-only publishing.

Old-School Not Cutting It

For those that have made such a move to digital publications, the cost of publishing print likely became prohibitive. Readership fees presumably could not be increased to keep up with costs for the writing, editing, photography, printing, and distribution that goes along with a print issue.

Along similar lines, advertising revenue for print issues may be stagnant or in decline. Because of the way media consumption is changing and how much free content consumers are expecting, securing the big advertiser deals is challenging. Due to the difficulty in getting consumer and advertising revenue to match and exceed the cost of print issues, it simply does not make sense for some magazines to publish physical issues.

The User Makes the Trend

Although ESPN is changing its delivery medium and ending future physical publications, it is still a magazine and will continue to operate as one. To do so, ESPN will publish a digital cover story every month, similar to a cover story that comes along with a monthly print magazine.

This move by ESPN signals the growing trend happening in the publishing industry today, undeniably triggered by the user his/herself. More brands are turning their focus to digital offerings. Whether they are going solely digital or starting to increase the amount of content they provide on their digital platform, readers will appreciate the modifications.

How We Can Help

At eMagazines, we offer state of the art digitization of any print magazine. Our reflowed digital editions bring along the best parts of the physical reading experience, but also offer the flexibility and ease of reading digitally. 

When consumers read a digital magazine from eMagazines, they no longer need to log in or download an app. Instead, they simply click the link that comes to their email when the newest issue is ready for them to read. The flow mimics that of a physical magazine, with similar page-turning techniques.


As consumers continue to rely on digital platforms when consuming media rather than print, more and more brands will have to weigh the cost of publishing a print issue versus a digital issue. They must consider that readers are looking to engage with their brands anytime, anywhere. Digital platforms not only offer readers more flexibility but are oftentimes more cost-effective.

We look forward to seeing the strides ESPN Magazine will undoubtedly make when its first digital-only offering of the annual “Body Issue” is released next year.

Martin, M. (2019, September 7). NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/09/07/758658222/espn-magazines-editor-in-chief-talks-end-of-body-issue