SBD/June 24, 2014/Media

SI To Launch Redesigned Digital Presence, With Focus On Multimedia Content, Fantasy

SI will incorporate content through a rebuilt management system
SI today introduced a "reconstructed website for both desktop and mobile platforms, the latest and perhaps most dramatic step in a digitally focused transformation of the sports media brand," according to Eric Fisher of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The tile-based system, "nearly a year in development, expands on design concepts that debuted last year with the launch of Peter King’s, and continued with other new SI products such as SI Edge and Planet Futbol." The new format "allows for substantial flexibility based on news events and editorial direction, and will freely incorporate text, photos, video and audio through a completely rebuilt content management system." The redesign "brings two other substantial changes in the SI operation." Both the mobile and desktop sites will "operate under the core Sports Illustrated brand name as it de-emphasizes the brand and seeks to present itself as a single content operation that operates across all platforms." The company also has "partnered with California-based TopLine Game Labs to create a daily fantasy game for baseball and football that will make its debut June 30." The SI digital relaunch also will "incorporate the forthcoming 120 Sports digital operation, of which SI is a core partner." Tiles within the new site will "feature video from the short-form digital network," which also includes MLBAM, the NHL and Silver Chalice. Launch sponsors "will be Canon, Black Rock and New Balance" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/23 issue). ADWEEK's Emma Bazilian noted ads on will "range from traditional units to more advanced ones that can be modified -- with the aim of combatting 'ad blindness' -- to include various multimedia components." VP & GM Jim DeLorenzo said, "In the last decade, the three big knocks the brand always got was that there weren’t video highlights, we had a subpar mobile experience, and we weren’t involved enough in fantasy. Literally, within a 30-day period, we’re going to check off all those boxes" (, 6/22).

DEAR MR. FANTASY: AD AGE's Michael Sebastian noted SI's new fantasy app, called Fan Nation, will "allow users to take part in the fastest growing segment of fantasy sports, daily play, where participants select a new team each time they play and then square off against a friend or random competitor." The "first game offered through the app is 'Baseball Throwdown'" and involves MLB players. SI "plans to offer similar games with players from the NFL, NHL and NBA." SI execs are "hoping to bring on sponsors for the app, but it also offers the magazine a potentially new revenue stream." The app "lets users bet money that they will win their match, although Sports Illustrated labels the bet an 'entry fee,' and pays winners their money back plus their opponent's bet minus a 'contest management fee.'" A successful $5 wager, for instance, "reaps $9 for the winner" (, 6/23).

DAWN OF A NEW DAY: Time Inc. Sports Group Editor Paul Fichtenbaum has posted a letter on explaining the redesign, stating the "goal all along was to create a progressive platform that would allow us to showcase the best of Sports Illustrated -- breaking news, opinion and analysis from reporters with access, longform journalism, video storytelling, riveting photography -- that you expect from us in a more visual and intuitive way no matter what device you’re using." Fichtenbaum: "It’s all meant to serve the audience and help you explore and enjoy the deep layers of content we produce, whether that’s hard news, feature writing, health and fitness or the ever-increasing intersection of sports and pop culture. ... Not unlike a sports franchise, we’re constantly upgrading, innovating and trying to give our fans the best product possible. And you can expect many more improvements in the coming months" (, 6/24).
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