What Happened to Extreme Sport Angling Saltwater Magazine
Extreme Sport Angling Saltwater Magazine (ESA), for several years the premier saltwater English language angling magazine in SouthAfrica suddenly dropped off the bookshelves and disappeared. What happened to it?
ESA Saltwater Magazine occupied a fond place in numerous anglers hearts for several years. Along with a weekly television production, a weekly angling competition held all over the country, each week in a different place, good value prizes, fishing trips for subscribers… This was a very popular publication, so what happened to make it disappear virtually overnight.
It seems the publication traded hands from one publisher to another several times before it’s demise, finally ending up in the hands of one of South Africa’s leading media houses, Avusa Publishing.
ESA Editorial and Staff Changes:
During the last year of the existence of ESA Saltwater Magazine, The editorial staff changed along with the presenters of the TV production (who were also contributors to the magazine. Over the years, anglers had come to know the producers, many had met them where they were fishing, and I think it is fair to say these guys had a following among fishermen. South Africans can be strangely loyal to celebrities they like. I think many of us (justly or otherwise) felt that when the well known crew was taken over by other presenters with different styles and ways, we felt our ‘friends’ had been forced out.
This may be unjust – however the new crew, especially the chief editor who I think was also th e CEO for a time, had an air of arrogance, and stand-offishness. The new crew seemed more focused on the fun they could have playing with an increasingly large range of toys, than getting down to the nitty-gritty of fishing.
ESA Magazine Subscriptions and Competitions
Extreme Sport Angling Magazine was available from local shop bookshelves, and by subscription. These subscriptions ranged from basic to Platinum level, and at the top cost a lot – 5 times the bookshelf price.
So what did a subscriber get for their money? Top level subscribers participated in a weekly draw for an all expenses paid angling adventure, either in South Africa or to one of our neighbours. Both mid level and top level subscribers were entered into regular draws for a Tackle hamper (worth R10 000). These benefits were what kept the expensive subscriptions going.
Then along came the new team. Suddenly no more fishing trips for subscribers – instead they started only taking advertisers representative on these expeditions. No more tackle draws. So what reason did a subscriber have to pay their costly membership subscription – in my opinion, NONE
The weekly competitions were part of the attraction to the TV series; many of us sat glued to ur TV screens when the show came on, to see who we would spot that we knew… who would win that weeks competition. It is fair to say when these competitions ceased, many TV viewers (and buyers of the magazine) lost some degree of interest in the production.
Another Fisherman’s Opinion
A fishing colleague, Mike Otgaar, with publishing experience and in whose company I have just spent a week, offered the following comment:
“When the publication started changing ownership back in 2009, the writing was on the wall. The changes to publication management, editors and authors soon lost track of the direction required to keep the magazine profitable. The focus shifted to an apparent attitude of “only the wealthy are worthy of our time” – more and more money and production time was aimed at portraying the magazine (and TV show) as an up-market product product. Features become almost exclusively geared towards rich playboys rather than the average Fisherman Joe who made up the vast majority of the buyers of the title, and TV followers.
When Avusa took control, the end was in sight. Avusa is a PLC, their only interest is maximising profit for shareholders. At the time advertising spend had been cut back by everyone in response to the economic slowdown. Although the magazine must have made money, the TV production no doubt absorbed a lot of revenue. Certainly Avusa considered the profit derived from Extreme Sport Angling too small to continue. Rather than relinquish the title to another publisher (competitor) I believe they decided to ‘suspend’ the publication and prevent another publisher from taking on an existing title.
The demise of Extreme Sport Angling Saltwater Magazine creates a gap in English language angling magazines for South African readers”
Ray the Fisherman