SBJ/20090420/This Week's News

SI GolfNation plugs into digital, networking

Sports Illustrated has developed an interactive application for its Golf.com property that connects the site with companion Facebook and iPhone applications through a single back-end system.

SI GolfNation, to be introduced in beta form this week, will have news content, instructional videos, tee time booking capabilities, and course and equipment reviews. It also will feature personal scoring data that users can upload within their profiles, along with a battery of social-networking components such as video and photo sharing and statistical rankings among self-created groups of friends.

The app arrives in beta form this week.

The free offering was created in-house by SI Digital and Golf.com staffers with the aid of New York-based Buddy Media. It will have a coordinated back end in which updates input by users through Golf.com, Facebook or the iPhone application will automatically be accessible through the other two forums.

“Looking at the avidities and attributes of Golf.com users and golfers in general, we saw a huge opportunity here,” said Ken Fuchs, SI Digital vice president. “This is a group that overindexes in terms of consumption of digital media and in terms of social networking, so the goal we had was to build a really intuitive product that offers everything a golfer and a golf fan could want all in one place.”

Grey Goose will be the launch sponsor for SI GolfNation, and its deal calls for a deep level of integration within the product. Elements to the vodka distiller’s branding include a “19th Hole” in which users can pour a virtual Grey Goose-based drink for themselves or a friend on the site. Links to cocktail recipes featuring Grey Goose will also be available. The Grey Goose sponsorship, however, will be accessible only to users ages 21 and older.

SI bought Golf.com in January 2006 and has spent much of the time since then looking for ways to deepen its range of news and instructional content and expand its audience.

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