Turner Sports' David Levy on Time Inc.'s Latest Power Play
It's a match made in digital heaven for sports entertainment enthusiasts: Sports Illustrated and Turner Sports have teamed up to deliver an online sports powerhouse, combining the magazine's celebrated brand and award-winning sports journalism with Turner's vast digital media experience. And it looks like both have donned their game faces to take on rivals like ESPN.
In an effort to bolster digital advertising and overall online presence, Turner's sports division will take control of the business side of SI.com and Golf.com, adding them to its portfolio of 19 digital sports and entertainment sites like NBA.com, Nascar.com and PGA.com. Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated will continue to create editorial content across all platforms: the print magazine, websites and mobile/tablet version. The new entity will be called "Turner/SI Digital." In short, the deal moves the traffic and digital assets of Sports Illustrated into Turner Sports, leaving the magazine as a separate entity.
Executives believe the partnership will allow each to leverage the other's operating strengths—Turner Sports' digital media experience and Sports Illustrated's editorial perspective—in building an online sports destination to rival the likes of ESPN and Yahoo Sports.
Inbox took a moment to talk with David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., about the partnership and the future of Turner/SI Digital.
Inbox: Do you see this as a way to make Turner Sports as powerful a sports brand as ESPN?
David Levy: This is a partnership between two companies who bring best-in-class capabilities. Sports Illustrated is the most recognized and trusted source for sports journalism in the industry. Turner Sports brings established digital media expertise, resources and video rights. When you add SI.com and Golf.com to Turner's collection of sports and entertainment digital properties we have created a preeminent online sports portfolio.
SI.com and Golf.com complement Turner Sports' robust digital portfolio it manages, which includes the NBA Digital portfolio, Nascar.com, PGAtour.com and PGA.com. Additionally, Turner Sports broadcasts a number of events year round on TBS, TNT and truTV, including the NBA, MLB, NASCAR, the PGA Championships and, beginning in 2011, the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
Inbox: Why do you think it's better to split SI.com from Sports Illustrated on the business, ad sales and marketing side?
Levy: This alliance strategically integrates our business in smart ways that will allow us to leverage one another's operating strengths to advantage our respective brands. By incorporating SI.com and Golf.com into the newly named Turner-SI Digital portfolio, we are providing valuable opportunities for advertisers. This arrangement will provide an opportunity for advertisers to expand their reach and activate multi-platform sponsorships to access more potential consumers at multiple touch points.
Inbox: Do you envision more sharing of content across all these websites and associated products?
Levy: The combination of our assets will provide an even richer experience for the consumer and reflects our combined commitment to bring fans greater content across a number of platforms. This new model opens up the opportunity to naturally integrate the Sports Illustrated brand and journalists into Turner's linear sports properties. Additionally, Turner's video rights, assets and talent will further enhance the content SI offers to consumers.
Inbox: What is the advantage of this partnership in terms of potential new mobile products and applications? What can mobile users expect?
Levy: Both companies have an established presence in this area and will collaborate on the production of new mobile products and applications.