Sports Illustrated — or SI as they now seem to prefer — officially started/announced their partnership today with Fox Sports. Most of the blog posts focuses on talent usage on digital properties. It is quick to note this is not a TV media play and instead will be done over each company’s website. That means crossover with Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci — as the blog posts mentions a few times — during the upcoming baseball playoffs.
The post didn’t really mention much outside of the current content that will be produced. No one knows what the partnership fully entails outside of some live video content during the baseball playoffs and SI article and Fox Sports articles will run on each other’s domains. The helps if people are only going to one site providing one unique, but it’s safe to assume that there had to be crossover. Some people who go to SI.com probably also went to Foxsports.com.
The digital partnership needs to be fleshed out a bit more before anyone in the industry can say it was a good or bad choice. SI has been trying to blow out its digital presence with the Cauldron, MMQB and other affinity sites. Fox has digital personas such as Clay Travis and Katie Nolan, but they don’t seem brand equivalent to anyone SI has on their roster. Nolan also has Garbage Time on Wednesday nights, but some fans will consume that content on Twitter or through other digital means. That doesn’t mean we should expect SI talent to be Periscoping with Clay, or podcasting with Katie.
It seems like SI and Fox came together and decided this was a good idea before developing what the partnership would look like. If this is a play to corner the digital market and target millennials and cord cutters, that is fine. But, there needs to be something more fleshed out before that demographic gets excited. Digital has had success recently. The Vertical gained traction with its NBA coverage, so maybe the SI/Fox partnership can do the same with baseball. The partnership is in its infancy, so it could theoretically go anywhere — though probably not a complete merger or acquisition — but the launch could’ve been stronger with more information on content and some strategy of where each company will benefit moving forward.