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Volume 24 No. 200

Media

The '18 SI Swimsuit Issue will "include more participation from athletes, written contributions from models, more donations and causes, and empowerment" in an effort to "make a magazine where models were as much participants as objects," according to Erin Vanderhoof of VANITY FAIR. In a first in its 54-year history, the Swimsuit Issue this year will also "feature a nude spread shot by a female photographer, Taylor Ballantyne, and an all-women crew" called “In Her Own Words.” Editor MJ Day said that she "sees connections between the #MeToo movement and her own work." Day said, “It’s about allowing women to exist in the world without being harassed or judged regardless of how they like to present themselves. That’s an underlying thread that exists throughout the Swimsuit Issue." Ballantyne last spring came to Day with the "idea of a nude shoot where models would choose words to write on their bodies, in an attempt to give the models a voice in a silent medium." Day decided it would be a "strong centerpiece of this issue." They chose a "variety of models with varying ages, body types, and levels of experience" (VANITYFAIR.com, 2/7).

MIXED MESSAGES: MCCLATCHY NEWS' Josh Magness wrote "not everyone was happy about the images," as many "questioned if they actually send a message of female empowerment" (MCCLATCHY NEWS, 2/8). The NEW YORKER's Alexandra Schwartz wrote the consequences of "inhabiting an objectified body are, in many ways, what #MeToo is all about, and there’s something spectacularly silly, not to mention tone-deaf," about SI fighting "fire with fire." Dark, simple words "painted on pale flesh don’t so much give the impression of women speaking their truths as of women who cannot speak at all" (NEWYORKER.com, 2/9). In DC, Cindy Boren wrote, "SI came up with an unfortunate compromise: More nudity! But nudity with a real purpose!" For giving models like Paulina Porizkova and others a platform, "albeit a naked one, SI is to be commended -- even if this halting step feels like a public service announcement dropped inside an issue that still too conveniently plays to SI’s advantage." It should have "sent a stronger message than 'Come for the female empowerment, stay for the hot babes'" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/12). TED.com Social Media Editor Ella Dawson tweeted, "I don't have enough patience left in my brain to coherently express everything wrong with Sports Illustrated framing its swimsuit issue as 'empowering' and in line with the goals of #MeToo."

JOB WELL DONE: In K.C., Jenee Osterheldt wrote, "I don’t understand the argument that because Sports Illustrated features women in bikinis that these women can’t support #MeToo." Osterheldt: "You can love your body, be in Sports Illustrated and be a feminist badass." Model Robyn Lawley has "words like 'Mother,' 'Human,' 'Creative' and 'Progressive' on her body" (K.C. STAR, 2/12).

ONE OF A KIND: SI this morning revealed Danielle Herrington as the cover model for the ’18 Swimsuit issue, with the magazine reverting to a more internally focused content and marketing strategy this year. After using various late-night talk shows in recent years for the Swimsuit cover reveal, SI announced the choice on its own website this morning in a video with former cover model Tyra Banks. The move pairs with the release this week of three Swimsuit-related specials on the new SI TV OTT video network, a move that similarly shifts away from recent partnerships to air specials on other TV networks. SI is also foregoing the out-of-town Swimsuit-release festivals. SI Group Editorial Dir Chris Stone said, “We really wanted to maintain ownership of the cover athlete reveal and Swimsuit this year.” The '18 Swimsuit issue, being released today, is 180 pages, up by six from last year. This year also marks a return to a single cover after three separate versions were produced last year. Athletes in this year’s issue include Genie Bouchard, Brenna Huckaby, Aly Raisman, Paige Spiranac and Sloane Stephens. Official sponsors for the Swimsuit issue are Kia and Stoli (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said her outfit would “love to stream the NFL,” according to Jason Del Rey of RECODE. YouTube has "bid on the rights to stream NFL games" for two straight years, but lost those bids to Twitter and Amazon, respectively. Wojcicki, speaking at Recode's Code Media conference yesterday, said that she "couldn’t speak to specific business deals or potential ones, but was comfortable laying out the pitch for why YouTube should be an attractive home to big live sporting events." She added that the platform also could "add specialized features, such as e-commerce functionality to sell sports merchandise" (RECODE.net, 2/13). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Darin Gantt noted YouTube "boasts 1.5 billion logged-in viewers a month, so it has the potential for even larger audiences." The platform also had "millions of viewers at one time for rocket launches, so they can handle big crowds." Whether YouTube’s latest NFL bid is "more successful than the first two remains to be seen, but the simple act of expressing the desire is good for the NFL as they negotiate the next round of deals" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 2/13).

PRICE TO PAY: Asked at the conference if Fox is overpaying for the "TNF" rights with a reported $3.3B price tag, 21st Century Fox President Peter Rice said, "I don’t think so. Any time you go to an auction, somebody wins, and everybody who loses says that the winner overpaid.” He added, "You either have the most-watched content on television, or you don’t have it." Meanwhile, Rice "doesn’t know which company he’ll go to if Disney successfully buys 21st Century Fox" (RECODE.net, 2/12).

Strahan and Brady want to create a multi-platform storytelling business
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Patriots QB Tom Brady, Pro Football HOFer Michael Strahan and filmmaker Gotham Chopra are "launching a new sports media startup" dubbed "The Religion of Sports," according to Jonathan Shieber of TECH CRUNCH. The group is seeking around $3M in "outside capital." Brady, Strahan and Chopra, alongside the startup's CEO Ameeth Sankaran, "want to create a multi-platform storytelling business that functions like an old-school studio -- dedicated to sports -- that tells the best stories in the medium that’s most appropriate for them." Strahan enjoyed a "long-standing friendship with Brady and through mutual friends was connected with Chopra, who floated the idea of the company to him." There is already the Religion of Sports series on The Audience Network and the "blockbuster success of the company’s latest endeavor -- the Facebook-distributed 'Tom vs. Time' series." In some senses Religion of Sports is "trying to upend the idea of a network in the same way that Players’ Tribune has." The Internet has "given a means for any group equipped with enough of a following and the means to produce quality content to set themselves up as a new take on the ESPN model." Viewers will not "need a 'channel' because the site and its attendant mobile app are the channel." Strahan: "A lot of people feel that traditional networks and other media outlets are a dying breed and they are going down because you have all of these new mediums" (TECHCRUNCH.com, 2/12).

NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" was its first show to originate from N.Y.
Photo: TWITTER

NFL Network morning show "Good Morning Football" is "moving out of CBS’s Manhattan production facility by the beginning of April," according to John Ourand in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. As part of its "TNF" agreement, CBS "hosted the show in its CBS Broadcast Center" since its August '16 launch. Fox "outbid CBS" to pick up "TNF" rights starting this fall, which means the network "no longer is contractually obligated to host the show." But an NFL Network exec said that the move was "planned well before CBS lost the rights." The morning show will "move 12 blocks south and be part of the NFL Experience in Times Square." NFL Network is "considering having a live audience during the show, though it won’t have one at the start." The show was NFL Network’s "first to originate" from N.Y. (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/12 issue).

Daytona Int’l Speedway Dir of Digital Marketing Matt Vinson (@DISupdates) has been in his position four years, coming on board several months into the track’s Daytona Rising project. At the time, the DIS' digital marketing efforts were run by one person. Vinson said, “I’m pretty hands on. I have a digital marketing manager named Tera Lyons who handles the minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour execution across all of our platforms. I oversee a lot of the strategy, a lot of the partner integration, how we are working with the series.” DIS does not focus solely on the Daytona 500, which has its 60th edition this weekend, but on all of the races and events the track hosts. Still, the “Great American Race” gets the brunt of the attention. Vinson: “We’ll take a little of the focus away after this 500 and we focus on (Bike Week) in March. We have renewals in April and those keep getting pushed forward each year, so essential from April through February, we are focused on the 500."

Content related to race’s 60th anniversary:
We spent a lot of our digital assets and a lot of our digital strategy around how we can pull forward those elements from the past 60 years. We are not focused on the 60 years across all of our marketing initiatives, just because it’s not as big of a milestone as say 50 or 75. It’s still historically relevant. We have leveraged our digital channels with that. For the past six weeks, we’ve done an article and a video highlighting each decade. For the past 60 days, we’ve posted a quote from a Daytona 500 champion.

Strategy for the race:
We work hand-in hand with NASCAR, but a lot of fans don’t know the difference between DIS and NASCAR and the different audiences we have. People who follow DIS aren’t all NASCAR fans because we host so many different events. During event times, we have to be cautious of the other events. You’ll see some Bike Week collateral coming through even during Speed Weeks. How we differ from NASCAR is we aren’t going to cover the on-track competition aspects; we aren’t going to cover the rules changes, we aren’t going to tweet out the lap-by-lap. What you are going to find is more facility related.

Marketing younger generation of drivers:
From our facilities standpoint, our team works with driver reps to get as many experiences with fans as possible. We’ll leverage anyone -- it doesn’t matter if they are young or old. We had Austin Dillon doing a Facebook Live, taking us on a behind-the-scenes garage tour, we had Ryan Newman talking to a bunch of USAC quarter midget racers. If we can connect them with fans one-on-one, that’s great. If not, we like to showcase behind-the-scenes aspects that fans aren’t going to necessarily see, through Facebook Live or Periscope.

Tech product needing improvement:
We’ve done a great job with the WiFi within our facility, but when you get 100,000 people you tend to get connectivity issues. We’ve got WiFi within the stadium, we’ve got WiFi within our campgrounds, in the UNOH FanZone, Victory Lane and our media center. It’s something facilities are starting to work on and we are among the leaders.

Thoughts on Snapchat redesign:
That’s the discussion topic of the week. I can see where they are coming from in separating brands from friends. It is definitely going to hurt the brand side. That channel skews young and it skews toward people who want to share things with their friends. So separating the two is going to limit your exposure.