Sports Illustrated has been satisfying the need for quality sports content among the masses for more than seven decades. Its readership base spans the globe, and it has served as the financial base for the publication throughout most of the brand’s history. Despite the publication’s stable standing as an industry leader, it has endured many of the same modern challenges as other print publications. One of the most significant and notable of these challenges is tied to the internet.
As the internet became increasingly prevalent in modern society, consumers gradually shifted away from print magazines and toward online content sources. Initially, Sports Illustrated adapted quickly by creating a website and monetizing it appropriately. Nonetheless, a reduction in print publication readers created a reduction in revenue. Things began turning around for the publication in 2016 when Ross Levinsohn accepted the position of Sports Illustrated CEO.
Ross Levinsohn has held numerous lofty positions for some of the most recognizable names in the media world over the course of his four-decade-long career. In fact, he has been one of the top-ranking executives at companies like Whisper Advisors, CBS Sportsline, Fox, Yahoo!, Guggenheim Digital Media and more. Prior to accepting the role of Sports Illustrated CEO, Levinsohn had been working as the head executive at Maven Media. This position allowed him to oversee and even tweak the monetization strategies for more than 300 well-known brands. One of these brands was The Street with Jim Cramer, which is recognized for delivering high-quality, Wall Street-related news to its audience. Because Levinsohn kept his ear to the ground, he was able to spot a shift in consumer preferences. This brand’s audience now also had an appetite for cryptocurrency news stories. Levinsohn adjusted the brand’s monetization strategy accordingly by offering two new cryptocurrency news lines on the flip side of a special paywall.
Because this is only one of the numerous experiences that the Sports Illustrated CEO could access to fine-tune his new brand’s monetization plan, he quickly created an effective solution. This solution involved innovating a premium subscription level for the website. Those who now pay for a premium subscription can access early-release stories well before those with a general subscription can. This reinvented strategy at Sports Illustrated has been the basis for much-needed change at other print publication brands in recent years.