Media Watch posted a very interesting interview with Terry McDonell, Sports Illustrated’s Managing Editor today. In it he stated that contrary to popular belief, the magazine competes with networks rather than other magazines, and that SI might lack the resources to do so.

SI’s conundrum reflects the troubles of magazines, especially weeklies. Yes, SI publishes a terrific issue every week. Problem is, ESPN can boast not only a popular magazine of its own, but also an iconic television and radio network. It’s not hard to figure out which of the entities deserves the moniker “The Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

It’s not all SI’s fault, though. I find it inexplicable that Time Warner, which also owns CNN and the Turner broadcasting channels, hasn’t jumped in to give SI greater TV exposure. Perhaps Walt Disney’s brands simply work together better than Time Warner’s do. But that is no excuse for why Time Warner hasn’t done more to make SI a bigger name in sports media and entertainment. Time Warner is blowing a terrific business opportunity.

“SI does not compete with magazines,” McDonell said correctly. “We compete with networks. We have to be much more than a magazine. Our challenge is to find ways to compete vigorously with people who would seem to have more resources.”

As usual, I’m not one to tell someone how to run their business, but I’m with Media Watch on this one. I always thought SI and Time Warner blew a terrific opportunity to challenge ESPN back in the 90s, and am not really sure why they haven’t attempted it again. Maybe now isn’t the time to be embarking on such an undertaking, but I hope they give it another shot in the future. The Sports World definitely deserves it.

Sports Illustrated hopes to continue the momentum (Market Watch)