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Sports Illustrated Builds on Entertainment Weekly's App Success

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During The Master’s Tournament last week, Sports Illustrated’s Golf Group rolled out Front9, a paid iPad and iPhone application—with a major assist from Time Inc. sibling Entertainment Weekly.

Front9, which features news, instructional tips, equipment analysis, ecommerce functionality and other golf content, was built using a template EW designed for its successful “Must List” app. Like that app, Front9 also employs a list structure—helping SI create the equivalent of nine “musts” for any golfer.

“There’s no question EW made a sizable investment in the Must List app that we were able to take advantage of,” said Golf Magazine publisher Dick Raskopf. “This was their first app, and after it came out we were able to grab their learnings right out of the gate. That’s good for Time Inc.”

According to a recent interview with Ad Age, last year when Apple announced the iPad, EW rushed the Must List app into production and it still took two months to make it to the market—time that Sports Illustrated’s Golf Group didn’t need to spend, and time that theoretically other Time Inc. properties can avoid investing as they push further into the tablet arena.

Interestingly, the EW Must List app is free to consumers. So why charge $2.99 for the Front9 app, when so many other content apps are free?  According to Raskopf, the Sports Illustrated Golf Group enjoyed 20 percent ad revenue growth in 2010. And the company has landed Fidelity, TaylorMade and Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday as sponsors for Front9.

 “We have a Web site obviously, where we don’t charge consumers,” explained Raskopf. “But with the new environment in iPads and iPhones, and all that you can do in an app...in this new universe, it’s important that our content is valuable. Ideally, if we can have two revenue streams it will be healthier for our business. And $2.99 a year is a pretty good deal.”