Sports Illustrated will be putting some of its premium content behind a paywall beginning Feb. 2, Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports.
"Exclusive news, behind-the-scenes interviews and special photography are all on the table. An SI representative declined to comment. Metered paywalls typically allow readers access to a certain number of articles before they have to subscribe. SI has not finalized that number of free articles or a possible subscription price, said sources. But one source said SI hopes to create a model where readers could pay up to $5.99 a month for premium content. "
This should come as no surprise — many outlets are seeking to improve their bottom line via monthly fee and Sports Illustrated has experimented with all angles in recent years, including nutritional supplements. The reported price is fairly competitive, but it's an open question of if the publication has enough subscription-drivers on staff to make it work. SI is coming at it from a very different place than The Athletic, which embraced this path from the beginning and has made staffing decisions based on increasing subscribers from Day One.
Some of us are old enough to remember some connective tissue in the magazine's past, when paying for a physical copy of the issue was the only option. Currently, a one-year subscription to SI, which includes 16 issues, costs $20. A two-year commitment is $30.
For all the focus on subscription models being a canary in a coal mine for sports journalism, it's probably just as important to see what happens to outlets that shift over to the model instead of build around it. It'll take a few years to collect enough evidence, but from the outside it sure seems like a more difficult transition.