SBJ/February 13-19, 2012/Media

SI projecting 8% rise in Swimsuit revenue

Sports Illustrated is projecting an 8 percent increase in advertising revenue this year from its Swimsuit properties, extending a wave of growth for the franchise.

Specific financial figures were not disclosed, but much like last year, the Tuesday release of the print magazine will be joined by a battery of multiplatform extensions, including content for the iPhone, iPad and Android, Kindle and Nook platforms, additional material on SI.com and a making-of TV special tomorrow night on VH1. Plus, an app developed with DirecTV will allow users to hold a smartphone over “digital watermarks” on pages in the print issue and unlock exclusive videos of photo shoots.

After a recession-fueled slump in 2009, SI has registered solid growth in its Swimsuit business metrics the last three years, company executives said. This year’s increase, however, is smaller than last year’s. After an initial projection of a 41 percent revenue bump from 2010 to 2011, SI finished last year’s Swimsuit campaign up 34 percent.

Overall, Sports Illustrated will gain 55 percent of its Swimsuit advertising revenue this year from print, 31 percent from online, 10 percent from experiential and event marketing, and 5 percent from inventory within smartphone and tablet applications. The split is similar to last year, though apps moved up from a negligible share in 2011.

“This is another big year for us. This is a franchise that keeps getting bigger and better,” said Time Inc. Sports Group President Mark Ford. “The Swimsuit brand continues to resonate very strongly. The revenue mix is still changing a lot, but Swimsuit remains one of those things that keeps pushing us in new directions in terms of content distribution and branding.”

Lexus pairs an all-new model with a swimsuit model in its Swimsuit advertising.
The print edition of Swimsuit this year will contain 211 pages overall. Eighty-two of those will be ad pages, down by four from last year but up by five from 2010, with this year’s inventory selling at higher rates. Major advertisers for Swimsuit this year include Lexus, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Gillette and vodka brand Kru 82. Within Gillette’s Swimsuit buy are female-targeted ads for its Venus line of razors, as women make up 38 percent of Swimsuit edition readership.

The Swimsuit edition cover will be revealed, as has become a custom, on CBS’s “Late Show With David Letterman” tonight. The models will be present and do not know the cover choice until the Letterman taping, creating a beauty-pageant-like moment of drama.

Among the new features in digital applications is 360-degree views of athlete models like Alex Morgan.
The digital applications, meanwhile, will contain several new wrinkles this year. Several athletes are again part of the Swimsuit edition, and this year’s group includes soccer player Alex Morgan and swimmer Natalie Coughlin. Those athletes will be available in 360-degree views in which scrolling over the photos will create the appearance of spinning around. The tablet applications and SI.com, meanwhile, will have social media extensions in which photo galleries of each particular model will contain links to their respective Twitter feeds.

After a rushed process to build last year’s Swimsuit content for tablets following the April 2010 release of the original iPad and the February 2011 unveiling of an “all-access” subscription plan, SI executives said this year’s efforts went far better.

“This was really the first time where we had an entire year to completely build out the product and make it deeper, smoother and much more interactive,” said Chris Hercik, SI creative director.

The Swimsuit edition reaches more than 65 million people when including all the platforms.

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