SBJ/July 15-21, 2013/Media

Sports Illustrated rallies unprecedented assets behind King’s new football site ‘The MMQB’

Sports Illustrated executives are branding “The MMQB,” the forthcoming football-only website led by Peter King, “one of the most important things we’ve launched in the company’s history.”

The creation of “The MMQB” represents the latest step in an effort over the past two years by SI to increase the breadth and depth of its franchises, such as Sportsman of the Year, and more recent initiatives to turn its Swimsuit platform into a year-round endeavor.

Peter King’s new football-only site will debut on July 22.
But given Peter King’s status as one of the most popular American sportswriters, as indicated in part by his 10 million average monthly page views for his “Monday Morning Quarterback” column during the NFL season and 1.1 million Twitter followers, the creation of the new site takes that concept to new heights. “The MMQB” is scheduled to debut July 22.

“I don’t remember anything we’ve put as many assets against as this,” said Paul Fichtenbaum, Time Inc. Sports Group editor, a 24-year veteran of the magazine. “This in many ways represents a natural evolution of SI.”

To that end, the site itself represents an expansion of many of the features already seen with King’s content on SI.com. Among the notable features:

King’s Monday morning column will now reside on “The MMQB.” Extensive links and promotion on SI.com and other SI and Time Inc. assets will direct users toward the new site.

A component of that Monday morning column — “10 Things I Think I Think” — will break out into its own daily feature with other writers also involved. At least half of the 10 individual entries each day will be fewer than 140 characters to allow for promotion and links on Twitter. The lists will post each day at 10 a.m. ET. A dedicated Twitter handle for “The MMQB” will also debut with the site launch.

Another core feature on the site will be “3 @ 3” where each day an NFL player, coach or administrator will respond to three questions. The items will post daily at 3 p.m. ET.

Long-form stories and profiles will frequently arrive with companion video segments providing additional behind-the-scenes content. Among the early subjects of that expanded treatment is San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

SI senior writer Don Banks will contribute a weekly column titled “The Conscience,” joining previously announced contributors.

Writer Greg Bedard will file a weekly, extended notes column that will appear on Fridays and set users up for Sunday games. Fridays on “The MMQB” also will include a long-form feature, to be called “Going Long,” and fantasy football tips.

Overall, the site will be more focused on analysis and features than breaking news. “I don’t want to get too caught up in things like signings and so forth,” said King, who later this week will begin his annual tour of NFL team training camps, with 24 stops planned. “I want stories on there that will live and breathe and not be dated in five minutes.”

Company executives expect the majority of consumption for “The MMQB” either at launch or soon thereafter to be from tablets and smartphones.

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