New Sports Illustrated editorial director Chris Stone told Awful Announcing last week that the publication was planning to invest in other verticals following the success of the football-focused The MMQB and soccer-focused Planet Futbol. One of those was rolled out this week, with the debut of the new “Tech And Media” vertical at si.com/tech.
The new hub will feature media reporting and analysis from SI’s Richard Deitsch, stories on sports and technology from SI’s staff (such as Michael Rosenberg’s piece Tuesday on how new FreeD technology could change sports replays for viewers and officials), and daily stories from a new partnership they’ve struck with SportTechie. It will also see collaborations between SI and SportTechie staff. Here’s what Stone and SportTechie CEO and co-founder Taylor Bloom had to say in a release:
“From video replay to VR, from social media to wearables and the total transformation of the full spectator and athlete experience, the crossroads of sports, media and technology is alive with innovation and is an integral part of the sports landscape today,” said Chris Stone, Sports Illustrated Editorial Director. “These are deep-dive stories that no one is telling and we are going to cover them across all of our platforms and in the best tradition of Sports Illustrated. This will only be bolstered by our alliance with SportTechie, the incredibly smart upstart site that will stay one step ahead of the competition and build on the mission to help sports fans understand where technology is taking the future of sports.
…“We are thrilled to enter into this robust partnership with such an esteemed outlet. In conjunction with Sports Illustrated, my co-founder, Simon Ogus, and I look forward to amplifying the great work of our writers and the stories of the burgeoning sports technology space across our combined global audiences and platforms,” said Taylor Bloom, SportTechie’s CEO and co-founder. “Technology will never stop evolving sports, and we look forward to remaining at the forefront of that evolution.”
Stone also told Digiday’s Lucia Moses the new vertical will feature a mix of four current and new SI staffers in addition to content from Deitsch and SportTechie, that they’re doing this because of technology’s growing importance in sports, and that social media will be key to the new vertical’s success:
“Tech has become essential to the sports narrative and the individual sports themselves,” said Chris Stone, who was just named SI’s new editorial director, succeeding longtime group editor Paul Fichtenbaum. “It’s not only apparent in the way teams and players are leveraging technology to gain a competitive advantage but the interaction with technology in our everyday lives.”
Social media will be a big part of the distribution plan. SI has streamed live on Facebook already, mainly feature its own staff. For Tech & Media, it plans to produce a Facebook Live series featuring the subjects of its tech stories. “We want our viewers to see the people we’re writing about and let them tell the stories we’re telling,” Stone said. SI also plans to step up its use of its Snapchat Story this summer to showcase its tech coverage.
This is an interesting play for SI. While technology and media stories may seem separate at first, there are plenty of areas where they connect, especially when it comes to broadcasts and to coverage of other media companies. There’s certainly an appetite out there for that kind of material, too, as plenty of publications have found success focusing on one or both of these areas. We’ll see if SI can grab some of the sports technology and media audience that’s out there.
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