These are tough times for the print media industry.
Subscriptions for major publications are down almost across the board. Most people prefer to get their news from free digital sources now, and newspapers and magazines are left to figure out how to keep turning a profit while their reader base is no longer as willing to pay for their content.
But Sports Illustrated, a 60-plus year institution of sports journalism, is managing to stay afloat by showing a willingness to embrace digital in a variety of platforms. Recently, that has included mobile and video.
SI recently launched its first comprehensive mobile application that provides all of its offerings in the same platform. Although it is not the first major sports journalism outlet to do this (ESPN and Yahoo! Sports, among a few league-run platforms, all have taken the plunge), it is the first primarily print journalism source to so fully embrace digital media content on both desktop and mobile.
Quality content from one hub
One of the key features of the app is its ability to allow fans to personalize the content they see by favorite team and writer, and to receive push notifications every time a favorite writer or team has a new story published.
Users are also able to “pin” videos, which allows them to watch clips in the corner of their screens while they navigate throughout the rest of the app. This means users can read articles while watching videos, a capability SI believes will lead to more overall views. The app also contains a pre-curated list of top highlights, photos and stories called “The 10 Spot.”
SI has already demonstrated an ability to be a major player in digital content. Although it doesn’t necessarily have the same power as ESPN in this arena, it does offer regular columns that draw a lot of online readership, along with entire online publications, such as The MMQB with Peter King—a Grantland-like collection of football articles and columns. SI.com was also the sole platform to which LeBron James deliver his letter announcing his intention to return to Cleveland a couple of years ago.
By embracing mobile technology and video, SI is taking yet another step to entrench itself in its position as a leading provider of sports news and content into a new generation, a step that many newspapers and magazines will likely need to emulate if they hope to remain viable in an ever-changing media landscape.
Tim Backes is a senior editor with ProPRcopy, a firm that delivers professional and affordable content writing services to businesses and organizations throughout North America.