SBJ/May 27-June 2, 2013/Media

Sports Illustrated plans new daily online talk show

Sports Illustrated will expand its presence in live online video with a new daily talk show, “SI Now,” beginning June 3 on SI.com.

The half-hour program will air at 1 p.m. ET and be hosted by Maggie Gray, SI’s video anchor. “SI Now” expands on more sporadic efforts in live digital video, including preview shows for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and NFL draft, and specials produced in conjunction with SI’s annual swimsuit issue.

Content will be a mix of news and commentary, and feature SI writers and invited newsmakers. The show, however, will not delve heavily into tactical, X’s-and-O’s breakdown of games, and remain more issues-oriented. With the live video program, SI.com also deepens its competition with its key digital sports rivals, including ESPN, Yahoo and Fox.

“This is a natural evolution for us,” said Ian Orefice, Time Inc. News and Sports executive producer. “We need to find more ways to connect with viewers on a live basis, so the question is really, ‘Why shouldn’t we do this?’ We understand it’s a crowded space, but just like the magazine and website, we’ll have a distinctive voice and perspective.”

“SI Now” will originate from New York in a new studio developed in the Time-Life Building. The show will also occasionally shoot on location, such as at the U.S. Open next month in Ardmore, Pa.

Ford has signed on as the exclusive sponsor of “SI Now,” with the term extending through November, the initial commitment for the program. At that time, SI executives will determine future steps for “SI Now.”

“SI Now” will be available on-demand in addition to the live daily airings. Other on-demand content produced by SI’s 3-year-old video unit includes its original Web series last year, “Underdogs,” chronicling against-the-odds stories in high school sports.

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