SBJ/February 11-17, 2013/Media

SI sees Swimsuit revenue growth

Resurgent print media sales are fueling growth of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit franchise, which company executives are projecting at 6 percent to 8 percent this year.

Specific financial figures were not disclosed, but the overall revenue growth rate mirrors last year and extends a period of expansion for what remains one of the most successful franchises in U.S. sports media. SI sold 102 ad pages for the 2013 Swimsuit edition, up 20 from last year and its largest total since 2008. Within this year’s Swimsuit print ad sales is also a franchise-first mini-zine, a 12-page style guide insert from Target that will be 6 by 8 inches and aid in positioning the issue more toward women.

Key sponsors beyond Target include the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Lexus, Cover Girl, Old Spice, DirecTV, M&Ms, and Forevermark. Those partners paid “relationship fees” to be partners of the Swimsuit franchise in addition to their media placements.

“We’re definitely seeing a real lift in print,” said Time Inc.
SI will feature a widescreen gallery of models online and a 12-page mini-zine style insert sponsored by Target.
Sports Group President Mark Ford. “It’s almost something of a return to a more traditional media mix. Digital is definitely still growing and is hugely important, as is the event and experiential side of this business. But as we’re seeing improvement in the economy, print has definitely been a big part of that.”

The 2013 Swimsuit edition overall will contain 224 pages, up 13 from a year ago.

The Swimsuit edition cover was to be revealed Monday night, as has become a custom, on CBS’s “Late Show With David Letterman.” Models will be present and do not know the publication’s cover choice.

Amid growth in the print Swimsuit business, SI continues to aggressively push the franchise into new areas. The publication recently struck a deal with The Travel Channel for a one-hour making-of special Sunday that will highlight the magazine’s push to shoot on all seven continents for the 2013 edition.

The Swimsuit mobile applications will feature a return of the popular 360-degree view feature in which scrolling over the photos will create the appearance of spinning around. The feature has been given greater depth and expanded to additional models. Also new to the app is a gamification feature in which users are quizzed on their knowledge of the swimsuit models. And rather than build an entirely new Swimsuit app, SI this week will release an extensive update that features both the 2013 and 2012 content. Such a move will allow SI to build from last year’s installed base of users rather than start from zero.

SI.com, meanwhile, will feature swimsuit models in a new widescreen gallery that automatically cycles through the models. Also new is a Swim Daily Blog that will further SI’s push to turn Swimsuit into a year-round endeavor.

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