How Ross Levinsohn and Sports Illustrated’s New Premium Membership Model Benefits Its Readers

  • Premium stories, videos, podcasts, and photos.
  • The SI Vault, the magazine’s digital archive that dates back to its first issue.
  • Early access to stories each month.
  • A customized newsletter.
  • Audio versions of select stories.
  • The industry is moving toward paywalls: Even large publishers like Hearst and Condé Nast are implementing paywalls. This model is an affordable way to support content efforts in an ad-free environment that focuses on quality journalism.
  • Readers want better content: In spite of the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, readers are consuming more digital content. Although digital content is plentiful, it isn’t always trustworthy or high quality. A paywall allows for premium storytelling from a trusted source on sports journalism.
  • Advertising revenue is too unpredictable: While advertising revenue can be profitable, solely relying on ads opens publishers up to big fluctuations in the market. This isn’t a sustainable model for publishers interested in building long-term legacies, like Sports Illustrated.
  • Ads limit the reader experience: Readers hate ads. Ads get in the way of content, leading to a frustrating and slow experience for readers. In this way, an advertising model limits Sports Illustrated’s ability to tell compelling stories.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ross Levinsohn

Ross Levinsohn


Ross Levinsohn the Sports Illustrated CEO and the CEO of The Arena Group. He has also held C-level positions with Yahoo! and Fox Intera