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January 21, 2019updated 07 Nov 2023 5:44am

Mundial football mag says business ‘will not live or die’ by ad sales as merch and brand partnerships help profits grow

By James Walker

Quarterly football lifestyle magazine Mundial began life as a one-off print edition for the Brazil World Cup and four years later its owners have grown profits on revenues of £345,000 in a challenging media market.

Head of business Owen Blackhurst told Press Gazette that Mundial never wanted to rely on print advertising when it launched in 2014. Instead it has focused on print sales, e-commerce and brand partnerships.

The magazine’s owner, Mundial Studio, turned a pre-tax profit of £23,718 for the year ended 28 February 2018 – only its third full-year of trading – up from £3,674 the year before and a loss of £640 in 2016.

“It shows that our business model works in a market where traditional print media is suffering,” said Blackhurst. 

“We have never seen ourselves as just a magazine, we have been conscious from the day we started Mundial that we wanted to become a trusted football brand, delivering quality content to a highly engaged audience through a variety of platforms and mediums.”

Alongside its print publication, Mundial runs a website and weekly newsletter and sells its own merchandise online. Together these make up about half of its total revenue income.

The other half comes from collaborations with brands, including Adidas and New Balance, on product launches through its creative studio arm.

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Blackhurst said that, while these paid-for partnerships had “played their part” in Mundial’s profitability, growth across the brand’s platforms had also seen print sales rise.

Mundial Magazine has printed 16 issues so far, costing £7 on newsstands with an annual subscription priced at £21. Its circulation stands at about 11,000, of which 2,500 are subscribers.

The group has eight full-time staff, some of whom have multiple roles within the company. Blackhurst is also listed as features editor. Editor Daniel Sandison and managing editor Sebastian White are two of four co-founders.

On the company’s formation, Blackhurst said: “We were all off in different jobs with a couple of issues under our belt and we made the decision to say ‘look if we don’t full-time now with some of the work we’re being offered, we’re probably never going to take it full-time.”

He added that the magazine would keep its quarterly print cycle because it allowed the magazine’s staff, backed by a “huge network” of freelancers, to “focus on other areas of its business”.

He added: “Another decision to remain quarterly was that we never wanted to be entirely beholden to print advertising revenue. Of course we carry print advertising, but our business does not and will not live or die on whether or not we sell traditional advertising.”

He said many magazines that printed monthly “beholden to advertising revenue”, adding: “I think the quality of the product often directly relates to how much advertising they’ve managed to sell.

“We wanted the product to always be able to be the best product we could put out, irrespective of whether we sold an extra couple of ads or not. We always wanted the product to come first.”

Blackhurst believes the magazine’s quarterly cycle also improves its content.

“Being quarterly allows us to talk about the game in a different way,” he said. “We don’t have to be news reactive or transfer reactive or just another publication talking about the here and now.”

“One of the best comments someone said to me about the magazine… is that you could read Mundial cover-to-cover and not know who’s leading the premier league, and that’s a nice thing.”

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