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Going bust: Why the Daily Sport is facing closure

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By The Drum Team, Editorial

April 5, 2011 | 4 min read

As the reins at Sport Media Group are handed over to administrators, we ask media buyers and PR professionals what went wrong and whether the Daily Sport and the Sunday Sport will be at all missed by their clients.

Rob Lynham, head of trading at media agency MEC

The Daily Sport has always struggled to attract advertising from mainstream brands. Most of its advertising came from premium rate adult phone lines, which together with its semi-pornographic content acted as a deterrent to other advertisers.

When James Brown was appointed consultant editor-in-chief at the end of 2007, a redesign followed in April 2008, moving more of the salacious content from the front of the paper to the back, in order to create a more advertiser friendly environment. However the change from "sleazy to sexy" had very little impact. The Daily Sport did not really change as a brand.

As the self-titled "newspaper that takes the piss", it was never even a consideration for the vast majority of mainstream advertisers as part of a national newspaper campaign. The paper’s circulation continued to decline month-on-month, and Sport Media Group finally withdrew it from the monthly Audit Bureau of Circulation reports in January 2009, sounding the death knell. From then on, it was always going to struggle.

It's a very long way away from 1989, when the Sunday Sport had a bigger circulation than either The Times, The Guardian and The Independent’.

Nina Webb, managing director of PR agency Brazen

It's a real shame to see another newspaper bite the dust but, in these testing times, it's not a surprise. We worked with The Sport briefly a few years back and, in its halcyon days the paper really did offer a humorous and lighter alternative to an otherwise sober news agenda. But times are changing rapidly. And when news, or The Sport's take on the news, took a dip for them they became more focussed on the glamour girls and the classified ads.

That was never going to end well, especially when that kind of thing is readily available on the internet for free.

But it is truly sad for those who have lost their jobs. There have been many very talented staffers work at The Sport over the years - some very good journalists are now facing the dole queue. The blokes in our office (The Sport's literally next door) will be especially upset - there was many an open-top bus pulling up outside full of glamour girls and scantily-clad models. Cigarette breaks certainly won't be the same.

Lee-anne Salisbury, associate director - channel planning at MediaVest

The surprise following the news that Sport Media group have ceased trading with immediate effect, is how they managed to survive so long.

The paper circulations have plummeted over the years and ad revenues have no doubt followed suit, whilst paper costs have dramatically increased and the average consumer is generally more selective in their reading material, all of which add up to the inevitable – Closure!

Content is king at present and if you can get better elsewhere, you most certainly will. You need to offer readers a USP to retain their loyalty and Sport just wasn’t offering anything different, nor insightful"

Richard Ellis, comms director at the Public Relations Consultants Association

While the closure of SMG may generate a few sniggers it should be another wake up call, if one were needed, about the challenges facing the newspaper industry. There remains a market for quality journalism but resources are stretched.

This is a real opportunity for farsighted PRs to become invaluable partners to journalists by providing them with access to all the information and sources they need to write balanced stories, reducing their workload and ensuring that they pick up your ideas time and again.

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