Today marks the beginning of the NFL season, and Sports Illustrated is kicking off the festivities with the debut of a new live web show, Pro Football Now presented by John Hancock.
The weekly, half-hour series—a spinoff of SI’s current daily live web series, SI Now—will broadcast live from Time Inc.’s new digital video studios every Thursday morning at 10:30. Pro Football Now will be hosted by SI anchor Maggie Gray and former New York Giants player (and Super Bowl winner) Amani Toomer, while a rotating cast of other NFL experts—including SI writers like Peter King and Don Banks—will make regular guest appearances. The inaugural episode features the Giants’ wide receiver Victor Cruz previewing week one games.
“Our readers’ appetite for NFL is off the charts, so we feel really strongly about this [series],” Time Inc. Sports Group editor Paul Fichtenbaum told Adweek. “There will be hardcore football for our fans, and maybe some light fare now and then. We’d like people to get a variety of NFL-ness, so to speak.”
SI had an NFL-related hit earlier this summer with the launch of a new football-only website, The MMQB (short for Peter King’s popular Monday Morning Quarterback column), according to Fichtenbaum. “It has been highly successful from an editorial viewpoint and a traffic viewpoint," he said. "We realized that football was key for us.”
Since Time Inc. announced plans to build out a centralized digital video unit late last year, Sports Illustrated has been one of the first brands seriously leverage the new department. In June, it launched SI Now Powered by Ford, and has also done live video around the Swimsuit Issue, college basketball and NFL draft.