Editor Says Sports Illustrated Doesn't Compete With Magazines

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Media Watch posted a very interesting interview with Terry McDonell, Sports Illustrated's Managing Editor today. In it he stated that contrary to popular belief, the magazine competes with networks rather than other magazines, and that SI might lack the resources to do so.

SI's conundrum reflects the troubles of magazines, especially weeklies. Yes, SI publishes a terrific issue every week. Problem is, ESPN can boast not only a popular magazine of its own, but also an iconic television and radio network. It's not hard to figure out which of the entities deserves the moniker "The Worldwide Leader in Sports."

It's not all SI's fault, though. I find it inexplicable that Time Warner, which also owns CNN and the Turner broadcasting channels, hasn't jumped in to give SI greater TV exposure. Perhaps Walt Disney's brands simply work together better than Time Warner's do. But that is no excuse for why Time Warner hasn't done more to make SI a bigger name in sports media and entertainment. Time Warner is blowing a terrific business opportunity.

"SI does not compete with magazines," McDonell said correctly. "We compete with networks. We have to be much more than a magazine. Our challenge is to find ways to compete vigorously with people who would seem to have more resources."
As usual, I'm not one to tell someone how to run their business, but I'm with Media Watch on this one. I always thought SI and Time Warner blew a terrific opportunity to challenge ESPN back in the 90s, and am not really sure why they haven't attempted it again. Maybe now isn't the time to be embarking on such an undertaking, but I hope they give it another shot in the future. The Sports World definitely deserves it.

Sports Illustrated hopes to continue the momentum (Market Watch)


Was there a CNN/SI network at some point, like a forerunner to ESPNews that didn't pan out? I think they were actually ahead of the times with that one.

I dont know why more of SI's fantastic writers don't have a presence on television. I see Verducci on the MLB Network. But why don't they have an NBA writer working with TNT, for example?

Personally, I think SI's web site is superior to ESPN's and obviously the magazine is.

Sean OLeary said...
Apr 16, 2009, 4:49:00 PM  

ESPNEWS launched a month and a half before CNNSI. I suspect the CNNSI experience was too much of a poison pill for Time Warner execs for whatever reason. I'm not sure why it was ever going to be such a "terrific opportunity" other than that ESPN wasn't a 900-pound giant then.

I think Time Warner might be among the better positioned companies to start an ESPN killer, but to really get it going they'd need to put the sports now on TBS and TNT there, maybe even launch it from one of those networks. The main drawback Turner has is that the closest thing it has to a broadcast network is the lowly CW. Turner also doesn't have a Spanish-language channel or an international distribution mechanism.

I'm not sure how much CNN covers sports, but certainly using SI talent to beef up Turner sports broadcasts couldn't hurt. Who's the NBA's version of Jay Glazer?

Morgan Wick said...
Apr 16, 2009, 9:14:00 PM  

Media Watch is correct, SI needs to team up with someone on TV in order to survive. Their web presence is good, but it needs to and can rival ESPN's.

We need a rival for ESPN badly.

testing thing said...
Apr 16, 2009, 9:41:00 PM  
Anonymous said...
Sep 26, 2009, 8:54:00 AM  

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