Germany: Why Gruner + Jahr bought football mag “11 Freunde”

Gruner +Jahr announced earlier this week that it had bought the independent football culture magazine “11 Freunde” (11 friends, for the 11 players on a football/soccer team), based in Berlin.

According to a recent report by German trade publication MEEDIA, here are the five key reasons why the Hamburg magazine giant bought “11 Freunde“:

  1. 11 Freunde is a high-quality lifestyle publication that cover football and everything around it.  The editorial team of sports journalists is top-notch and the finished product is of premium quality in looks and editorial content.
  2. The 11 Freunde magazine has much “optical opulence”, as MEEDIA wrote, which refers to its glossy aspect, hence making it a great fit within the other G+J portfolio.  Plus, the magazine’s work has been heralded by its peers many times over at magazine awards (finishing #2 at Germany’s Lead Awards for instance).
  3. G+J Publishing Director Volker Breid and 11 Freunde’s editor on chief Phillipp Köster look like they are getting along very well.  And the Hamburgers has also reportedly promised total editorial freedom to the Berliners.
  4. The ad sales of 11 Freunde have lots of potential in G+J’s opinion. Handled in-house out of Berlin until now, the ad sales team will soon be joining the ranks for G+J Media Sales headquartered in Hamburg and will benefit from their own client and agency contacts.
  5. To start a new lifestyle magazine catering to sports enthusiasts would have cost G+J a heck of a lot more than to buy a 51% stake in 11 Freunde (although the official purchase price was not released).  According to MEEDIA, 11 Freunde has been profitable with revenues upwards of €1 million.

Now, the only thing that’s missing is why are the two owners of 11 Freunde, Philipp Köster (editor) and Matthias Hörstmann (Publisher) selling a controlling stake in their magazine so soon?  11 Freunde currently circulates 78 839 copies per issue, a figure that’s expected to keep growing under the new G+J ownership (circ. was up 10,% in December 2009 YoY).

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