A still from a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit "premium" video.

Time Inc. is experimenting with some different approaches lately, including contemplating selling some of its titles, and now they’re making some changes to Sports Illustrated‘s Swimsuit content. They’ve previously done plenty of Swimsuit TV specials, launched a Swim Daily section on their website, and just recently partnered with a clothing company to sell branded swimsuits and activewear. Now, they’re making Swimsuit into its own brand, as per Trey Williams of Marketwatch:

Time Inc. said on Wednesday that it is building out its Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine brand into its own full-fledged business. Time announced Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Enterprises, a new division that Time hopes will extend the brand by developing licensing programs, new businesses in partnership with swimsuit models and leveraging content and promotional assets of Time and Sports Illustrated. “By tapping into SI Swimsuit’s enormous reach, unparalleled brand loyalty and talented models, we have extraordinary potential to develop new licensing and business opportunities that span a variety of categories,” said Sports Illustrated Editorial Director Chris Stone.

They also recently experimented with their first-ever pay-to-watch Swimsuit video (a still from which is shown above), which offers a free minute-long preview and then costs $0.99 to rent the whole 54-minute video. Ryan Glasspiegel of The Big Lead has more on the thinking there:

“We’re always experimenting with new distribution and revenue models for our range of long-form video content,” an SI spokesperson said in an email. “This is the first video from Sports Illustrated Swimsuit to be published under this format, and we plan to continue to experiment with the best ways to reach more people, wherever they are consuming premium video programming.”

It’s interesting that trying new things with Swimsuit is such a focus for Time Inc., as that was a key part of Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s plan for the overall company with his eventually-rejected takeover offer back in November. The Swimsuit content has long been drawn criticism from inside and outside SI, but it does seem to be an area where they can find some branding and sponsorship opportunities. And the idea of offering a free preview and then charging for a full video might have some merit for them beyond Swimsuit too; maybe we’ll see that for other longer documentaries, such as their VR Everest one.

In any case, it remains to be seen whether the SI focus on Swimsuit is a good idea or not. There are clearly some short-term opportunities here, but will they work out in the long run? Still, it’s obvious that Swimsuit is a growing point of emphasis for both SI and Time Inc. We’ll see how this works out.



About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.