<> on January 23, 2015 in Miramar, Florida.

As Sports Illustrated attempts to diversify from being just a printed sports magazine, the publication has been offering video, both short and long-form. It produced in virtual reality, a climb of Mount Everest. Now, it plans to launch its own subscription video-on-demand service. The launch is planned for the fall.

According to FierceCable, the service will have original series, documentaries, fantasy sports shows as well as live programming from sports and entertainment events. SI plans for its Golf and MMQB sites to also contribute to the service and produce content.

There are no details on how much it will cost, but the question is why is it launching now when Amazon, Facebook and Twitter will have live sports and SI’s service for the time being will not.

SI Group Editor-in-Chief Chris Stone said that the publication had been producing video for quite some time and it should have a destination for viewers to see them:

“We had all this great long-form content and we needed a better platform for it, frankly. One that we had greater control over. Of course we could pursue licensing deals but we wanted one of our own platforms that was something more than just putting it on SI.com,” Stone told FierceOnlineVideo. “With OTT, we think there’s a real opportunity to create a platform that aligns with the quality of the video we’re creating.”

One example Stone points to is the SI True Crime series which is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI, The Amazing Race) which lends itself to the new service. But can documentaries, series and storytelling alone attract viewers? Stone thinks so:

“I know we have the resources and talent in place to convert that premium storytelling through more traditional platforms into storytelling through more visual platforms.”

Time will tell if there will be enough subscribers to sustain this model or if SI will have to start bidding for live sports down the road.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.