News UK has folded freesheet title Sport Magazine to focus its investment on audio and digital brands at Wireless Group, which it acquired last year for £220m, The Drum has learned.
The last issue will run next Friday (3 February). It is not yet known how many people from Sport Magazine's team will leave the business, though it is understood that some could be offered roles elsewhere in the company.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned media company completed the acquisition of Wireless Group, which owns a stable of radio stations including TalkSport, in September.
At the time David Dinsmore, chief operating officer of News UK, talked at length about his plans to use TalkSport and TalkRadio to cross-promote its newspaper brands The Sun and The Times, but evaded questions on the publisher’s plans for Sport Magazine.
“We are looking at everything in the mix,” is all he said.
This is despite the freesheet remaining the most read sports magazine in the UK, and increasing its circulation in 2016. It was the number two men’s magazine in the first six months of 2016, with a circulation of 306,384, second only to Shortlist at 505,876 copies, according to the ABCs.
Coach, from Dennis Publishing, was third in the sector with a circulation of 300,997. The magazine was later closed in November as a print title, transitioning to an online-only model, as the publisher bemoaned a tougher than expected print advertising market.
In recent years The Sun has launched a number of iniatives aimed at growing its strong sporting audience, including a betting and gaming division Sun Bets, and fantasy football league Dream Team. This coupled with the addition of TalkSport makes more a strong sport offering, likely rendering Sport Magazine an unnecessary expense.
Scott Taunton, chief executive of Wireless Group, said: “Our thanks go to the editor Tony Hodson and his team who have made Sport magazine so popular with its readers. We look forward to them producing a cracking final issue.”
Sport Magazine, which started in France in 2003, opened in London in 2006. It was sold to UTV, now Wireless Group, in 2009.