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Niche interests, like soccer, proving crucial in magazine industry

Anyone with a special hobby, interest or value might be helping the magazine industry.

Though digital media seems to be on the rise throughout the country in multiple spots, there’s been some growing interest in the magazine industry as of late — specifically around niche interests.

The New York Times reported that loyal subscribers are sticking with their hobby magazines, which has kept many of the magazines afloat.

“For decades, the nation’s top general-interest publications, like Time and Newsweek, attracted millions of readers who considered those magazines to be household staples,” wrote Christine Haughney for The Times. “But as readers increasingly turn to the Internet for news and information, niche magazines continue to retain and attract loyal followings, making them a bright spot in an otherwise dim outlook for print periodicals.”

Soccer magazines, for one, are growing, according to The New York Times. Two new soccer magazines — Eight by Eight and Howler Magazine — are entering the fray of soccer news, joining other soccer magazines like World Soccer, FourFourTwo and XI, which is suffering financially, The Times reported.

Much of the excitement over the magazines is related to the World Cup, which kicks off next year in Brazil, The Times reported. “Then there’s the recent ESPN poll in which American fans, for the first time, chose a soccer player — Argentina’s Lionel Messi — among their top 10 favorite athletes,” reported The Times.

But starting up these magazines — in an age where print is no longer the top dog in the media industry — is more for pleasure, one editor said.

“When we started (the magazine), we didn’t think, ‘Here’s a market we could exploit,’ ” said George Quraishi, co-editor at Howler along with Mark Kirby, to The New York Times. “We wanted to make a magazine about something we love.”

Favoring hobby and niche magazines might be leading to an increase in the market. Mashable reported that ads purchased for iPad version of magazines rose by 16 percent in 2013. Though print ads “were almost unchanged from the year before, down a fraction of a percent,” this is still “good news for an industry hit by falling ad revenue.”

But the magazine industry is changing, according to NewsMax. Time Warner, a multinational media corporation, plans to make some changes to its “family of magazines including money-makers People and InStyle, as well as Time and Sports Illustrated,” NewsMax reported, citing a New York Times article.

It’ll mark a shift in these magazine’s journalistic standards, as the magazine editors “will report to the respective business chiefs,” NewsMax said.

This hasn’t gone over well among some writers, like Frances Martel, who was skeptical of the shift in an article for Breitbart.com.

“The print industry is in dire economics straits, and Time Warner could have seen this as an opportunity to amputate a diseased limb before the infection spread,” wrote Martel.

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com Twitter: @hscribner