Just in time for the World Cup, Sports Illustrated is expanding its soccer blog, Planet Futbol, into a stand-alone site set to roll out later this week. SI made a similar (and very successful) move last year when it launched MMQB, a spinoff site based on football writer Peter King’s popular Monday Morning Quarterback blog.
PlanetFutbol.com will also be led by one of SI’s star writers, Grant Wahl, who has overseen the Planet Futbol blog since its launch last September. About a dozen other SI staffers and regular contributors will write for Planet Futbol, including both full-time soccer writers (like Brian Strauss, U.K.-based Ben Lyttleton and Brazil-based James Young) and a few of SI’s soccer fanatics who haven’t previously covered the sport for the publication.
While the World Cup is certainly driving interest around soccer at the present moment, the appetite for football coverage in the U.S. has expanded “exponentially” in recent years, said Sports Illustrated managing editor Paul Fichtenbaum. “Every time we do soccer stuff, it just blows up,” he said. “And not just in the U.S.—it has global reach, too.”
Fichtenbaum attributed the sport’s growing popularity here in the States to its legions of young fans like his own son, who, along with his friends, grew up on the FIFA video games and have now adopted teams in the European Professional League. “They played it physically, and now they play it virtually [with FIFA], and it has given rise to this next generation of soccer fans,” Fichtenbaum said. “Also, I think that globalization and technology has helped people to connect with those stars across the globe.”
Since its launch in 2013, the Planet Futbol blog has seen significant growth, with traffic up 230 percent and pageviews up 400 percent, according to the company.
The new stand-alone site has signed advertising partners including Degree, Edge Shave Gel, Hublot, Canon and Gatorade.