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.

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Ross Levinsohn

Ross Levinsohn

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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