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Sports Illustrated's First Comprehensive App Has a Feature That Could Boost Video Views

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Customization includes a notification when your favorite writer publishes a new story. Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated has been around for 62 years, but it's a newbie when it comes to mobile.

Though the longstanding sports brand has launched a few specific apps for its Kids and Swimsuit products, today SI rolled out its first comprehensive mobile app that houses all of its offerings under one roof.

Sports Illustrated joins an increasingly crowded marketplace for athletic news apps that includes ESPN, Yahoo Sports and several league-run platforms. Even Facebook is getting in the game with its new Stadium feature. To help Sports Illustrated stand out, Patty Hirsh, SI's digital general manager, is banking on readers' affinity for the publication's celebrated roster of reporters including Peter King, Lee Jenkins and Tom Verducci.

Hirsch noted that many of the other sports apps are "either involved in TV rights or very much a commodity play, getting users the baseline information that they need. That's not who we are," she said. To that end, the app allows fans to personalize content by favorite team and favorite writer, with push notifications every time one of them publishes a new story.

Another key feature is the ability for users to "pin" videos—allowing them to watch clips in the corner of their screens while navigating the app. Since users won't have to shut off the video when they want to explore other content, SI hopes this leads to more views. The app also has a curated list of top photos, highlights and stories called "The 10 Spot."

The app launch kicks off an important month for Sports Illustrated that began with Tuesday's National Signing Day and continues with Sunday's Super Bowl 50. "February is a huge month for this magazine," said Hirsch. After the confetti drops in Santa Clara, Calif., Sports Illustrated heads north of the border for NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto, where it will reveal the cover of the next Swimsuit issue during a television special.

"From this point on you will see a rapid succession of launches," said Hirsch, who plans to roll out new Swimsuit and Kids apps in the coming months. "This is just one of them."

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