Sports Illustrated readers are getting a new way to combat the mid-day slump: Starting June 3, the weekly sports mag is launching a new Web series, SI Now Powered by Ford. The live, half-hour talk show, which will air weekdays at 1 p.m. EST, will be hosted by Sports Illustrated Video anchor Maggie Gray. Ford has signed on the series’ presenting sponsor through October.
While SI has ventured into both live video and Web series in the past (including live coverage around big events like the NCAA tournament and Swimsuit Edition unveiling and the Webby-nominated Underdogs storytelling series), SI Now will be the first regular, live series to come from a Time Inc. brand. This will also be the first big production to come out of the company’s fledgling digital video unit, which was formed at the end of 2012.
SI.com managing editor Matt Bean and Time Inc. News and Sports executive producer Ian Orefice said that the idea to produce the show was in response to the fact that, every day around 1 p.m., SI.com sees a sizable boost in traffic. “We’re basically looking to capitalize on a period in the day that, for us, is primetime,” said Bean. Having access to Time Inc.’s new digital video studio made the live filming and editing process more feasible than it had been in the past.
The show will be a mix of analysis, interviews, and reader feedback. (It’ll also have the ability to broadcast live from big sports events, like the upcoming U.S. Open.) “We’re trying to create something that feels a little bit different, a little bit more casual,” said Orefice, adding, “I think it’s important to note that we’re not trying to compete with SportsCenter.”
While there are no concrete plans for any future video launches, Orefice said that Time Inc. is “aggressively looking” to develop video across its other news and sports brands.