Weekly Autosport to cease publishing?

Weekly Autosport to cease publishing?

Author
Discussion

andygo

5,497 posts

201 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
I subscribe to Autosport online as it helps with my job - I finance race cars and motorsport kit.

The website has been getting poor in content, for instance hardly anything on the WRC or even National and club events. Such a shame and the magazine reports are so short as to be little better than the TSL timing results service, which I have to stress is a brilliant resource in its own right though.

It's all about the money. If it was perceived as good value, then people would buy it.

I have to say that in general mags such as Octane, Evo F1 Racing, Classic car and Autosport are much better to read on my ipad as at least you can zoom in on the text and photos!

ArnageWRC

976 posts

105 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
I agree with both Coppice & Dynion Araf Uchaf; it was a good magazine when it covered a broad selection of motorsport. however, for the last 15+ years it's become mainly a F1 magazine, with filler from the other 'lesser' series. And their covers reflected this; 99% it was always F1.


andrewcliffe

484 posts

170 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
At various Autosport meetings, they always said that they whenever there was something other than an F1 car on the cover there was always a drop in sales, presumably this is spur of the moment sales in supermarkets and railway stations etc, as the subscriber base would remain pretty constant. Whether this was true or simply an interpretation into statistics, I think they started to believe too much in that, and didn't want to be brave and experiment, unless it was a particularly notable occasion - a home win in WRC or WEC for example.

For a period I was an occasional contributor - Autosport mapped out the national racing calendar in January to co-incide with the Autosport show. The national calendar was pretty much fixed by then, so most of the events were known, at least which organising club such as 750MC, MSVR, CSCC would be at which circuit, even if those clubs individual championships hadn't fully sorted their calendars.

Those journalists and photographers who had on a retainer were given the first opportunity, so all the bigger meetings were snapped up, and what was left over was sent to the other contributors who could call dibs on some of the lesser meetings - or ones which clashed with the big prestigious meetings - Goodwood, Silverstone Classic, Donington Historic Festival, Brands Masters etc.,

The last meeting I went to they said that the National/Historic Section was being revamped, they would be covering less in the magazine, but more would go on the website following experimentation with a couple of events which brought them a surprising amount of hits. They used to send a journalist and a photographer to every circuit race meeting in the UK, but this reduction in pages meant that they dropped a couple of the smaller meetings off the list for reporting, and its been cut further. Sadly this means that the services of the 2nd tier crew would no longer be needed.

Payment was never quick - it was always end of the month plus one month, so you could be waiting for 37 to 60 days for payment. You knew the score, and it always turned up when they said it would, but that too changed and last I heard which was in the period after the Motorsport Network acquisition from Haymarket, some freelancers hadn't been paid for several months.

There were high hopes when Motorsport Network took over - no longer would it be just another magazine in the large portfolio of a general publishing house, it was now the principal UK magazine for a portfolio of motorsport platforms and other motorsport services, so it was hoped that they understood they had a title of importance, and would cherish it and it would flourish. Sadly not to be - the ratio of news to adverts dropped, the magazine became slimmer and the paper was reduced in quality. Various people were shuffled about and a lot of young journalists who were still wet behind the ears ended up in higher roles than their experience suggested they should be in.

Also there was a decrease in unique content - the magazine would have a feature which would have already have been on the website recently.

Its a huge shame for all the good guys, staff and freelancers who've been shafted by managerial decisions made above their heads.

I think there is still room for a print based motorsport weekly done right. It turns out that Motorsport Network weren't up to the job.

TheDeuce

3,135 posts

12 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
andrewcliffe said:
At various Autosport meetings, they always said that they whenever there was something other than an F1 car on the cover there was always a drop in sales, presumably this is spur of the moment sales in supermarkets and railway stations etc, as the subscriber base would remain pretty constant. Whether this was true or simply an interpretation into statistics, I think they started to believe too much in that, and didn't want to be brave and experiment, unless it was a particularly notable occasion - a home win in WRC or WEC for example.

For a period I was an occasional contributor - Autosport mapped out the national racing calendar in January to co-incide with the Autosport show. The national calendar was pretty much fixed by then, so most of the events were known, at least which organising club such as 750MC, MSVR, CSCC would be at which circuit, even if those clubs individual championships hadn't fully sorted their calendars.

Those journalists and photographers who had on a retainer were given the first opportunity, so all the bigger meetings were snapped up, and what was left over was sent to the other contributors who could call dibs on some of the lesser meetings - or ones which clashed with the big prestigious meetings - Goodwood, Silverstone Classic, Donington Historic Festival, Brands Masters etc.,

The last meeting I went to they said that the National/Historic Section was being revamped, they would be covering less in the magazine, but more would go on the website following experimentation with a couple of events which brought them a surprising amount of hits. They used to send a journalist and a photographer to every circuit race meeting in the UK, but this reduction in pages meant that they dropped a couple of the smaller meetings off the list for reporting, and its been cut further. Sadly this means that the services of the 2nd tier crew would no longer be needed.

Payment was never quick - it was always end of the month plus one month, so you could be waiting for 37 to 60 days for payment. You knew the score, and it always turned up when they said it would, but that too changed and last I heard which was in the period after the Motorsport Network acquisition from Haymarket, some freelancers hadn't been paid for several months.

There were high hopes when Motorsport Network took over - no longer would it be just another magazine in the large portfolio of a general publishing house, it was now the principal UK magazine for a portfolio of motorsport platforms and other motorsport services, so it was hoped that they understood they had a title of importance, and would cherish it and it would flourish. Sadly not to be - the ratio of news to adverts dropped, the magazine became slimmer and the paper was reduced in quality. Various people were shuffled about and a lot of young journalists who were still wet behind the ears ended up in higher roles than their experience suggested they should be in.

Also there was a decrease in unique content - the magazine would have a feature which would have already have been on the website recently.

Its a huge shame for all the good guys, staff and freelancers who've been shafted by managerial decisions made above their heads.

I think there is still room for a print based motorsport weekly done right. It turns out that Motorsport Network weren't up to the job.
Thanks for the info - all very interesting. It relates extremely closely to my discussions with a neighbour who used to write for a now defunct VERY popular mag, basically the same story except their circulation definitely dropped 'overnight' as their readership were largely young, male and tech savvy - people who were quick and gleeful to discover that whatever the mag could offer them for a fiver, they could get online for free.

Everything you have pointed to, is in the spirit of increasing sales and de-creasing costs. The question of whether or not that was the best thing to do, is quite complex. Traditional business wisdom says that if you maintain the quality, the crowds will flock - let the quality slide to make a fast buck and you will enter a viscous spiral where sales drop, so you have to reduce costs even further. Perhaps this is what they did - although with all their experience it would be odd for them not not be aware of such a basic principal.

The other possibility is that way back when all was still going well and the quality was just fine, sales due to interest in web/new forms of media did start to decline, and after a period they had no choice but to seek ways to cut costs. If that were the case, then the management would not be guilty of killing off the publication - they would be guilty of opting for the longest, slowest demise possible.

Whichever the cause, the work-force will always have their own opinions as to was done wrong and why it didn't make any sense. But without a global view of all facts/figures/metrics, the reality is we just can't know for sure. All we do know for sure is that several members on here have said they just use the net now for their motorsport reading, and not all of those have raised a specific complaint with autosport's content. Some people stopped buying magazines as soon as they realised the same info (I accept not always the same quality of writing) was available for free online, and often, available sooner. That must have impacted their readership, perhaps by just a few %, perhaps by a significant enough % for the writing to be on the wall and no alternative but to scale back costs periodically to keep it going for as long as possible.

If the sales no longer support the operation needed to maintain the quality, then what can any publisher do? If there was a mistake, it was perhaps not to have a digital revenue strategy twenty years earlier...

Edited by TheDeuce on Thursday 10th October 00:30


Edited by TheDeuce on Thursday 10th October 00:34

coppice

5,522 posts

90 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
It did feature Goodwood on the cover the other week,which made a change from ANOTHER picture of an F1 car , surmounted by , as said above, some guff like 'What Lewis Had For Breakfast in Baku - And Why It Mattered '

I was looking through an old copy - covering Hunt's first F1 win at Silverstone '74 (I was there!) - and among all the club meetings and news there was even a report of the Castrol-sponsored motor club quiz series ! We can never go back to that but God, how I used to froth after some wet behind the ears reporter , freshly back from a payola trip to see some new series in the Middle East would make some sneering comment about some dusty hell hole being so much better than a wet Snett , Cadwell or Thruxton - y'know, those circuits where the likes of Peterson , Clark, Senna , Hakkinen and Rindy cut their teeth ?

RE payment - I was chatting to a well known but now freelance Autosport guy last year at Thurxton ; it was August and he'd not been paid for work he'd done in April.

andrewcliffe

484 posts

170 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
I know quite a lot of club racers and they always enjoyed receiving Autosport in case they were mentioned, and there was a build up of enthusiasm on Wednesdays for Motorsport News and Thursdays for Autosport.

Just look at the huge aisle of magazines in supermarkets covering almost every topic of interest - shows that print is not dead. Whilst some prefer to receive their copy on a tablet, many don't.

I think this is more about Motorsport Network internal problems - have they bought more than the can chew. Motors TV was taken off the TV schedules and became web streaming only. Now the futures of three long standing publications are in doubt.

Fundoreen

904 posts

29 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
People will probably miss a printed record in years to come. Nobody will go back and looks at 10-20 year old mags on a tablet.
The tablet would have broken or your online account erased in 20 years time. The magazine may as well have not existed.
Actually too many reasons to list about the benefits of a printed copy for your own reference and nostalgia.
It could have kept going if rammed full of adverts but advertisers budget goes to all the online players like google and facebook.
Also a lot of the problems they have is others just feasting off the efforts of their journalists.
All the so called expert f1 sites that spring up regurgitating the same information. By wed/thur you have heard it all
so a printer copy has less going for it.
The only thing they can do is have their own online presence and put the story out first.
Autosport live did some good stuff around f1 testing where you could follow whats going on a play the odd clip they uploaded.
Doing this sort of live roving reporter during a weekend may be the future as it will sort them from all the websites run
by some enthusiast sat at home.

All those niche magazines seem to do ok though they are really just a shopping catalog.
Which big watch/Big watch wearer. A magazine for the big watch aficionado full of adverts for big watches lol






andrewcliffe

484 posts

170 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
Some websites just regurgitate press releases, where publications with a good name, with journalists there in the paddock, should get news items and titbits that aren't picked up elsewhere.

For the national pages in Autosport, a contributor would need to get their copy in by first thing Monday morning, Sunday night for Motorsport News.
I'm sure the front section F1 has a slightly later copy requirement but not by much as Motorsport news is on the newsstands on Wednesday and Autosport on Thursday, and the thing has to be printed and distributed.

It doesn't allow much time for a journalist to do real digging into stories as there isn't the time allowed. Those stories are reserved for future issues, or for the monthly F1 Racing magazine.

Edited by andrewcliffe on Thursday 10th October 12:06

moffspeed

887 posts

153 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
...and yes the cover price is £10.99 today folks.

Don’t do the humane thing and put the wounded animal to sleep, no shove it in the corner and let it die of starvation.

The editorial which attempts to justify things is simply shameful.

TheDeuce

3,135 posts

12 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
moffspeed said:
...and yes the cover price is £10.99 today folks.

Don’t do the humane thing and put the wounded animal to sleep, no shove it in the corner and let it die of starvation.

The editorial which attempts to justify things is simply shameful.
Really that much!?

The final throws of the vicious circle of death then.

To put that cost into perspective, shop for a discount code and you can get a nowtv week pass and watch an entire GP weekend of racing live, for the same money - along with the rest of whatever live sports are on sky that week.

DanielSan

14,450 posts

113 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
moffspeed said:
...and yes the cover price is £10.99 today folks.

Don’t do the humane thing and put the wounded animal to sleep, no shove it in the corner and let it die of starvation.

The editorial which attempts to justify things is simply shameful.
Trying to go online subscription only with Autosport is insane enough given the Motorsport website puts them up for free but the cover charge really is a final piss take.

df76

1,971 posts

224 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
DanielSan said:
moffspeed said:
...and yes the cover price is £10.99 today folks.

Don’t do the humane thing and put the wounded animal to sleep, no shove it in the corner and let it die of starvation.

The editorial which attempts to justify things is simply shameful.
Trying to go online subscription only with Autosport is insane enough given the Motorsport website puts them up for free but the cover charge really is a final piss take.
It's still on Readly today..

Stan the Bat

4,987 posts

158 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
coppice said:
It did feature Goodwood on the cover the other week,which made a change from ANOTHER picture of an F1 car , surmounted by , as said above, some guff like 'What Lewis Had For Breakfast in Baku - And Why It Mattered '

I was looking through an old copy - covering Hunt's first F1 win at Silverstone '74 (I was there!) - and among all the club meetings and news there was even a report of the Castrol-sponsored motor club quiz series ! We can never go back to that but God, how I used to froth after some wet behind the ears reporter , freshly back from a payola trip to see some new series in the Middle East would make some sneering comment about some dusty hell hole being so much better than a wet Snett , Cadwell or Thruxton - y'know, those circuits where the likes of Peterson , Clark, Senna , Hakkinen and Rindy cut their teeth ?

RE payment - I was chatting to a well known but now freelance Autosport guy last year at Thurxton ; it was August and he'd not been paid for work he'd done in April.
Nice to see the castrol club quizzes get a mention--i was on my local club team, Liverpool Motor club.

Dinoboy

1,769 posts

163 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
moffspeed said:
...and yes the cover price is £10.99 today folks.

Don’t do the humane thing and put the wounded animal to sleep, no shove it in the corner and let it die of starvation.

The editorial which attempts to justify things is simply shameful.
£10.99!!!!!!!!

What's the gist of the justification?

Piginapoke

904 posts

131 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
[quote=Dynion Araf Uchaf]

My view is that Autosport could be resurrected if it became a more cerebral magazine, better more considered race/rally reviews, technical articles, opinions about the sport that the rules makers might not want to hear, a good club and national section, a decent rallying section all matched with decent photography.


This.

The Brummie

7,789 posts

133 months

Thursday 10th October
quotequote all
This weeks issue - £10.99!!!

As a loyal reader, I have bought every copy since 1978, & I have hundreds of issues stored in my garage, I find that price to be taking the piss big time.

I for one will not pay that amount for a single issue even if it the last one.

They can sod off.




PhillipM

5,711 posts

135 months

Friday 11th October
quotequote all
ArnageWRC said:
I agree with both Coppice & Dynion Araf Uchaf; it was a good magazine when it covered a broad selection of motorsport. however, for the last 15+ years it's become mainly a F1 magazine, with filler from the other 'lesser' series. And their covers reflected this; 99% it was always F1.
Pretty much this, I cancelled my sub after 20-odd years of that and Autocar because for the past 5-10 years they have been far less technical, far less interesting and far narrower in coverage than they used to be. I probably have 100 magazines still in the wrapping, unopened from the past couple of years.

TheDeuce

3,135 posts

12 months

Friday 11th October
quotequote all
I've googled to no avail - trying to find a chart or report that shows the trend in magazine price increases in each sector, or even globally.

I did find a report that estimated advertising revenues were down from £1.1bn in 2011 to £750m in 2016. That alone is massive and would easily add £1 to each magazine's RRP. If they're also selling less magazines, then before long you have to add another £1 per copy and so on... Which puts off even more readers then another £1 gets added to keep the publishing offices open for another year..

I'd have thought for such a large industry it would be easy to find such reports and statistics. Apparently not.

moffspeed

887 posts

153 months

Saturday 12th October
quotequote all
I have been an avid reader of Autosport for 50 years or so, yes the mag is a pale, diluted shadow of its former self and printed media is on borrowed time, the recent bulking out with 'Performance" sections etc have been cringeworthy .. but Thursday wouldn't be Thursday without A'sport arriving on the hall floor...Interestingly my quarterly sub is approx. £35 and when I phoned yesterday I was told that this would be honoured for the foreseeable future - but at £11 a go the printed version is surely doomed.

Spare a thought also for "Motoring News" as it used to be called. As a kid I contributed race reports for them in the South Wales area i.e. Llandow. Before the 'net MN's classified section used to be the go-to place to buy your performance car, my first 3 "proper " cars - an Escort Mexico, RS2000 X pack and an Elan Sprint were all sourced from MN. Happy days.

Stan the Bat

4,987 posts

158 months

Saturday 12th October
quotequote all
Yep,both Motoring News and Autosport published on a Thursday- used to be highlight of the week.