Peter King Signs New Contract With Sports Illustrated After Overtures From ESPN, NBC
SI has signed a three-year contract extension with football writer Peter King, and plans to launch a spinoff, football-centric website this summer that King will edit. The still-unnamed website has hired Greg Bedard from the Boston Globe, while Jenny Vrentas from the Newark Star-Ledger, Neil Janowitz from Fast Company and Bradley Smith from the N.Y. Times will join also SI. King has been with SI since '89, and chose to stay after weighing offers from several other entities, including ESPN and NBC. "Peter's the most prominent reporter on the most important beat in sports, and his ability to excel across the changing media landscape is a model for our organization," said Time Inc. Sports Group Editor Paul Fichtenbaum. "We're excited to continue working with Peter and increasing his role with our new digital initiative." In addition to the new football website, King will continue his other duties, including work for the magazine, SI.com and his "Monday Morning Quarterback" column (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
PAY DAY: In N.Y., Keith Kelly reports King's deal "marks a big departure" for SI and Time Inc., "since the deal will involve not so much the SI brand but rather a single writer." The signing means SI "avoids getting another black eye as it did five and a half years ago when its reigning star, Rick Reilly, announced he was jumping to ESPN." That multi-platform deal "reportedly was worth" $17M over five years. The King deal was "seen as a key contract for Time Inc., given all the recent turmoil, and it was not an easy one to nail down." It is "estimated to value" between $1.2-1.5M annually. King is "expected to continue his commentary" on NBC's "SNF." Fichtenbaum, regarding the football-centric website, said, "It’s still in the planning stages. Right now, we’re just calling it Peter’s site.” He said that he "hopes to have it up and running by the time football training camps open in August." Meanwhile, Smith will be the new Dir of Photography "for the sports group." Janowitz will be SI.com Senior Editor, "focusing on sports and pop culture" (N.Y. POST, 3/22).
BOSTON BREAKER: BOSTON SPORTS MEDIA WATCH's Bruce Allen reported Bedard will "continue with the Globe through next month's NFL draft." Bedard "will be based in Boston, so we'll assume he'll still have a big focus on the Patriots." Bedard confirmed the news on his Twitter account, writing, "Yes it's true: I will be joining Sports Illustrated as a senior writer effective May 1. Love the Globe. This was just a terrific opportunity" (BOSTONSPORTSMEDIA.com, 3/20). In Boston, Chad Finn writes football more than any other sport is the "one in which self-starting reporters can build an advantage by becoming immersed in its nuances and complexities, then finding an accessible way to relate that depth of knowledge to an audience." Finn: "I don’t know of anyone anywhere who has done that better than Greg Bedard since he became the Globe’s national NFL columnist in October 2010." There is "no doubt he’ll continue to provide original insight in his new gig" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22).