Originally created 01/08/98

New magazines `Teen People,' `ESPN Magazine' make debuts



NEW YORK -- Two new magazines born from pop-culture icons are making the loudest noise in this year's annual parade of new magazines.

Teen People and ESPN Magazine, backed by well-known names and huge corporate dollars, tout fresh approaches to popular themes and are viewed as likely successes among the hundreds of new magazines that come and go every year.

"They're definitely the highest-visibility new names you're likely to see in 1998," said Peter Appert, a publishing analyst at BT Alex. Brown in San Francisco.

Teen People, which goes on sale Friday, is an monthly spinoff of Time Inc.'s weekly People and is built on the same formula: Profiles of celebrities and regular folks. But unlike leading teen magazines Seventeen, YM and Teen, which are aimed exclusively at girls, Teen People is hoping boys will account for 15 percent of its readers.

Christina Ferrari, editor of Teen People, said her magazine will focus only a third of its content on beauty and fashion, the backbone of other popular teen magazines.

"Our tone is more unisex. When we talk about male celebrities, we don't gush about how babe-a-licious they are," said Ms. Ferrari, the former editor in chief of YM. "This will be the only teen magazine boys won't be embarrassed to be seen reading."

One major obstacle is publishers' historical trouble at getting teen-age boys to read magazines about topics other than sports.

"No one has ever successfully launched a dual-audience teen (magazine)," said Martin S. Walker, chairman of magazine consulting firm Walker Communications.

But Teen People is hoping to follow the lead of People, whose 3.25 million circulation is 34 percent male. The weekly has been the fastest growing consumer magazine during the past three years, according to Capell's Circulation Report, a newsletter on magazine circulation.

Teen People's circulation for 1998 is projected at 500,000, compared to nearly 2.5 million for Seventeen, 2.1 million for YM and 1.6 million for Teen. But Teen People hopes to increase that figure with greater support from advertisers, who covet the fast-growing teen market.

Younger readers are also a key focus of ESPN Magazine, a biweekly that will arrive on newsstands March 11 banking on the popularity of the nation's most-watched sports cable network.

The magazine is backed by Walt Disney Co., which owns 80 percent of ESPN, and Hearst Corp., which owns 20 percent of the network and publishes such titles as Good Housekeeping and Esquire.

A magazine spokesman would not comment on the companies' investment. But a source close to the launch, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Disney and Hearst will spend about $75 million on ESPN Magazine.

In its path is Sports Illustrated, which dominates the category with a circulation of nearly 3.3 million, and smaller competitors Sport, Inside Sports and The Sporting News. With a projected 1998 circulation of 350,000, ESPN Magazine will lag those three as well.