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Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated Play Partners with NGBs

16 Dec, 2015

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

When Time Inc., the parent company of Sports Illustrated, needed to staunch the flow of declining revenue from its traditional print platform, it made the choice to increase its digital side. And that was only the beginning.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, over the summer, Time acquired SportsSignup and LeagueAthletics.com, which provide online management tools to youth sports leagues that enable parents, coaches and players to check information such as team schedules and statistics. The two businesses serve about 8 million athletes, 300,000 teams and 8,500 leagues.

Time also bought a third sports company, iScore Sports, which sells apps priced at $9.99 each for fans of baseball, football, basketball and soccer. The apps enable users to create a digital scorecard and track games play-by-play, as they unfold.

Time then rolled all three sports firms into a new unit called Sports Illustrated Play.

And that was still only the beginning.

MediaPost reported that Sports Illustrated Play has announced a new partnership with US Lacrosse, the national governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse. It is also partnering with USA Volleyball, the NGB for that sport.

The collaboration is part of a bigger push by Time Inc. to diversify its business by investing in new markets. “It is an exciting time at Sports Illustrated Play as we expand our services and products aimed to enrich the youth sports experience for players and participants,” stated Jeff Karp, CEO of Sports Illustrated Play.

Sports Illustrated Play will become US Lacrosse’s “Official League Management Partner,” providing registration and content management services to 450,000 US Lacrosse members nationwide. It will become "Official Club Management Software Partner" for USA Volleyball, The partnership will enable members of both organizations to use Sports Illustrated Play’s proprietary software tools, which include online registration, roster management, scheduling, websites and background checks.

The sports deals could help the company reach a new audience and collect data that would be valuable to advertisers. MediaPost also reported that Time Inc.’s advertising and circulation revenue fell 9% and 7%, respectively, in the quarter that ended March 31. 

According to Joe Ripp, CEO of Time Inc., the youth sports space consists of approximately 30 million American athletes aged 5 to 17.

US Lacrosse, a nonprofit corporation, coordinates all activities of the U.S. National Teams Program and has 68 regional chapters across the country. USA Volleyball has over 325,000 registered members, 12,000 teams and 5,300 clubs nationwide.

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