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SI.com Joins Online Video Race

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Sports Illustrated, famous for its award-winning photography and reporting, is making a bigger push into original Web video.

On Mar. 1, SI.com introduced a new programming franchise, SI Inside Report, which will produce multiple original segments on weekdays. The roughly two-minute long clips feature Sports Illustrated staffers analyzing current sports topics, such as today’s “Can Anyone Beat the Yanks?” segment.

To run SI Inside Report, Sports Illustrated has turned to a pair of sports journalism veterans. Ian Orefice, who helped lead the video efforts at sister site CNNMoney.com, has been named executive producer for video at SI.com. In addition, Maggie Gray, who has covered Major League Baseball for the Associated Press and the NBA for Westwood One/CBS Radio Sports is SI Inside Report’s debut anchor.

SI.com has signed on Mercedes and Samsung as debut sponsors of SI Inside Report.

The original video content is something of a departure for SI.com. Though the site does some video content—including footage from the Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot—it has not established itself as a daily destination for sports video content as rivals ESPN.com and Yahoo Sports have. But clearly that is the goal with SI Inside Report.

Besides Inside Report, SI.com is also adding game highlights, along with interview segments from Dan Patrick’s daily radio show. The plan is to pump out at least 15 pieces of video content each weekday. “Our vision is to deliver SI’s world renowned story-telling heritage to through video programming developed specifically for the Web user,” said Orefice.

The video foray seems to be coming at the right time. SI.com enjoyed a record traffic month in February, driven by Swimsuit, the Super Bowl and the Winter Games. According to internal figures, the site attracted 28.4 million unique visitors in February 2010  programming will feature interview segments.

Related: SI.com Posts Largest Swimsuit Launch Ever