Super Bowl coverage tackles NFL's biggest p.10

By: Joe Strupp The Denver Broncos' Super Bowl victory in Miami gave Denver's daily newspapers a chance to step up their long-running circulation battle with a slew of special sections, heavy marketing efforts, and extra editions that rolled off the presses just as the championship game ended.
While newspapers have long used hometown sports championships to boost their sales and promotion, The Denver Post and Denver Rocky Mountain News took such coverage a notch higher with two extra editions each following the victory in Miami on Jan. 31 and bumped up single-copy runs.
"Whether you are in a circulation war or not, you maximize sports events," says Linda Sease, vice president of marketing for the News. "We took a formula from last year and made it even better."
Also capitalizing on the Super Bowl hype was the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which hails from the hometown of the Super Bowl-losing Falcons, and The Miami Herald, which took advantage of its city's position as host of the big game.
For each newspaper, the event meant a chance to boost circulation, promote its link to fans, and pump up ad revenue. Although the Denver newspapers were shy about releasing specific revenue increases from the game coverage, each say the event boosted their income.
"A Bronco game sells the newspaper, people want the newspaper," says Post advertising and marketing manager Tom Philand. "We got started a lot earlier than last year and used more marketing."
The Post began its Super Bowl hype on Jan. 24 with a special 12-page, stand-alone section in the Sunday edition and ran similar sections daily through game day, Philand says. He says an extra edition of the Sunday paper hit the streets just as the game ended, with a second extra on newsstands an hour after the final gun sounded.
On the Monday after the game, the Post printed a 28-page wrap around its regular edition, with stories on the game, profiles, and a round-up of Super Bowl week. Extra copies of the Monday paper were printed and sold at a parade held by Denver city officials for the Broncos on the same day.
Immediately after the Broncos' victory, News hawkers were on the streets with two extra editions. The first was a 15,000-run, preprinted issue that had anticipated a Bronco victory and went on sale as the game ended, while the second offered a larger, 20,000-copy version that rolled off the presses about 30 minutes after the game.
On Monday, the News published a 52-page Super Bowl tab in addition to its regular 16-page sports section, according to Sease. She says the paper also included a 16-page Super Bowl wrap. Thirty-five thousand copies of a special parade issue also were published and sold along the parade route, she adds.
The News also published a 96-page book celebrating the Broncos' entire season that will be available for $9.95 through a marketing campaign with a local grocery store chain.
For the Journal-Constitution, extra coverage began with a special 10-page section on the Sunday before the Super Bowl, with an additional seven pages each day through Friday, according to Don Boykin, assistant managing editor for sports. He says weekend editions also included special sections, with the game-day edition carrying a 28-page pregame tab.
The Atlanta paper, which runs both an afternoon and morning edition under competing names, also bumped up its usual 475,000 daily press run by 40,000 copies the day after the game, Boykin says. He says it would have been increased by as many as 100,000 copies if the Falcons had won the game.
At the Miami Herald, coverage also turned up a notch for the host city's only major daily newspaper. Herald circulation director Wayne Markham says the extra attention began with a four-page preview of the NFL Experience on Jan. 21, which promoted NFL-related events leading up to the game.
On Jan. 24, the Herald ran the first of 12 special sections, the largest of which was a 14-page tab on Super Bowl Sunday, says Markham. The Herald bumped up the press run for each day of the special sections by 40,000 to 50,000 copies, he adds, with the largest bump of 80,000 on game day, he says. The Herald's regular daily circulation is 350,000, with 477,000 on Sundays.
A Herald extra edition also was printed for distribution following the game and handed out to 5,000 fans leaving the stadium. Five thousand copies of a post-game extra proclaiming a Falcons victory also were ready in case the Atlanta team won.
Markham says the coverage was much larger than when Miami last hosted a Super Bowl in 1995, the year the San Francisco 49ers beat the San Diego Chargers. "It was much better planning [this year] done by the local committee," he says. "The number of events was much greater and there was more chance for people to participate."
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?(copyright: Editor & Publisher February 6, 1999) [Caption]


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