Sports Illustrated readers reportedly have only one more week to read SI.com content for free. According to Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy, the outlet is planning to install a paywall and put its “premium content” behind it beginning Feb. 2.
The paywall would be a metered model, meaning that some content would still be available for free. Several team-specific channel sites run by contract publishers provide the bulk of the site’s current content, and it’s difficult to imagine readers will want to pay for that. The same goes for breaking news. Video and podcast content would also likely be accessible without payment.
McCarthy’s report didn’t clarify what will constitute “premium content” for SI.com. But Sports Illustrated‘s featured writers and the coverage they provide could be placed behind the paywall.
For example, NFL content from established reporters like Jenny Vrentas could fit that category. Or perhaps the entire Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) vertical. The reported Feb. 2 for the paywall would occur roughly a week before Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 and give SI.com’s NFL content a premium push to readers.
We’re down to the final four teams in the NFL, so what’s your pick for the best Super Bowl matchup? pic.twitter.com/TYlbofsjHw
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 19, 2021
Other examples of content that could go behind the paywall include one of baseball’s best writers in Tom Verducci. Veteran NBA writer Howard Beck was a recent splashy hire for the publication. Pat Forde‘s college sports features and columns are another possibility. SI.com has also made a push with more betting content. Could that end up behind the paywall?
Under a metered model, readers might be allowed to read a certain number of articles without charge before encountering the paywall, a model used by publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post. But according to McCarthy, that number hasn’t yet been determined, nor has a subscription price — though $5.99 per month was a number mentioned.
That price point would line SI.com up against outlets such as The Athletic, which charges a monthly rate of $4.99 with an annual subscription or $7.99 for a month-by-month subscription.
For what it’s worth, a subscription to the Sports Illustrated print magazine currently runs $20 for one year and 16 issues (including four special editions), or $30 for a two-year agreement and 30 issues.