With the launch of the SI Photo Blog on Tumblr, Sports Illustrated is providing its fans with a new destination for 57 years worth of iconic, award-winning photography. It’s a treasure trove of thousands of photos dating back to the magazine’s birth in 1954; some of the photos are classic, some are funny and some are just plain weird. All of them will be managed and posted by SI.com special projects producer Andy Gray (@si_vault). So how did Andy develop this idea?
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do ever since I started a Twitter feed for the SI Vault,” he says. “Whenever I posted photos — especially quirky ones from the 70s and 80s — they got a ton of response. So I started thinking of what I could do to branch out.”
Innovation is a tradition at Sports Illustrated. Over the past 57 years we went from being the first newsweekly to use full-color photos to being the first sports magazine on the iPad. The idea has always been to push the limits of what’s possible. Why? Because our 20 million readers want it that way.
So here’s another first: Starting today, we’re making it easier for subscribers to read this magazine on any device—anywhere, anytime. As of this afternoon, you’ll be able to get Sports Illustrated across a full spectrum of devices, from Android tablets and smartphones to your desktop computer. You can start reading your magazine on your Galaxy tablet over breakfast, pick up where you left off on your Droid smartphone during your commute and continue reading Sports Illustrated on your iMac desktop at work.
Every day brings news of a new device or software platform that promises to change the world. That’s no problem. We’re set up to be anywhere that makes sense for our readers. We’re ready to go with a full version of Sports Illustrated optimized for Honeycomb, the newest build of Android for tablets like Motorola’s upcoming Xoom. And when the HP TouchPad comes out later this year, we’ll be available to our subscribers on that tablet as well.
In this age of digital atomization, we know that Sports Illustrated has to be more than a magazine. That’s why we’re relentlessly experimenting with new ways to stretch the definition of what Sports Illustrated is. When Google launched its Chrome Web Store last December, we were there with Snapshot, an application that streams the best sports photos of the day to your computer. And our annual Swimsuit issue is a Swiss Army knife of applications: Twitter feeds; apps on the iPhone, iPad and Android; a special Flipboard stream; 3D video on Sony’s PlayStation video network; and our Swimsuit Selection Show tonight on DirecTV’s Channel 101, where we will unveil the entire model cast of the 2011 Swimsuit franchise. And of course, SI.com continues to dominate the web with its lively and smart coverage 24 hours a day.
No matter how you slice and dice it, though, some things never change. Our tradition is built on the best photography and thought-provoking journalism in sports. But when tradition meets innovation, pretty cool things can happen.
Today we’re introducing Sports Illustrated Snapshot, a customizable app that delivers the best of sports through the lenses of Sports Illustrated photographers. It was designed for Google’s Chrome browser and can be downloaded from the new Google Chrome Web Store, which was also unveiled today.
For more than 50 years Sports Illustrated photography has given fans the most iconic sports images, from Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston and “The Catch” by 49er Dwight Clark to the U.S. Hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice” and Drew Brees lifting his son in victory at last year’s Super Bowl.
Now, Sports Illustrated’s photo editors will edit and caption the best photos of the day every day for Snapshot’s multiple channels. It starts every morning with 10 eye-popping images in Photos of the Day—modeled after the magazine’s popular Leading Off section.
Snapshot brings this storytelling to a customizable app. Users can also organize their sports in My SI, by sport and team (aggregating news and scores) and by location in a Local channel.
The app employs a “freemium” model. The Extras channel will offer rare, curated images from the Sports Illustrated archive; comprehensive photo coverage of major events, such as the Super Bowl; and special picture sets from SI Swimsuit. At launch Swimsuit Body Painting Editor’s Cut and The Year in Sports Photos will be available for $.99 each. Like many other exclusive essays coming soon, the photo collection from this year’s Super Bowl, When the Saints Came Marching In, is free.
Just as we’ve seen with our iPad app, advertising in these new digital environments can be so enriched it will become content itself. The advertising experience in Snapshot is equally seamless. Snapshot launch sponsors are Lexus, Toyota and Courtyard by Marriott.
Sports Illustrated Snapshot is built in HTML5 to be searchable, shareable and immediately accessible in the Chrome browser, reflecting the vision Sports Illustrated set forth at the Google I/O conference last spring. Working with us on this project is the innovative San Francisco-based developer Hitpost.
As you see it today, Sports Illustrated Snapshot is a beta release and you may experience some quirks. We are working on new features, channels and products to introduce in the coming weeks.