NBC Sports Network has slowly built its portfolio in the last year with shows like NFL Turning Point and Costas Tonight, but their latest initiative may be the most intriguing. NBC Sports Network will launch a new monthly magazine show... but not just any magazine show, a Sports Illustrated magazine show. Here's the crux of the announcement from NBC:
The NBC Sports Group and the Time Inc. Sports Group will partner to produce “Sports Illustrated,” presented by Lexus, a monthly, hour-long sports magazine TV show. The announcement was made today by Jon Miller, President of Programming, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network and Time Inc. Sports Group President Mark Ford. It was also announced that Lexus will be the program’s presenting sponsor.
"Sports Illustrated” presented by Lexus debuts Tuesday, July 24, 9:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Network. The show will deliver the magazine’s DNA of award-winning storytelling through feature segments, original reporting and commentary from SI’s trusted journalists. It will also tap into the SI Vault to spotlight great stories from the past, updating our favorite characters and events. Emmy Award-winning Red Line Films has been tapped to produce the show
Like the push towards original documentaries, I like this commitment to a magazine show for NBC that could rival Real Sports and E:60. Also, it's a little inside baseball, but don't discount a distinguished sponsor like Lexus either. One of the things NBC has stressed from the beginning was increasing the prestige of their programming and drawing big sponsors in spite of what ratings may or may not be there at the outset.
Sports Illustrated may not be as relevant as it was at its absolute height, but it's still the premier weekly sports publication in the country. It's impossible to predict what kind of ratings a show like this can pull, especially out the outset. But, this SI show should be smart, insightful television unlike much of the screaming debate shows that sound like blaring fire alarms.
The new SI/NBC show makes sense for both parties. NBC is able to add more quality content and SI is able to gain another valuable platform for the magazine and website. And it's not like these two have never worked together before with Peter King being a major part of Football Night in America. What will be interesting to see moving forward is whether or not this is a one-off between SI & NBC or we see them do more work together in the future. A partnership with Sports Illustrated that has true depth to it would be a very interesting way for the peacock to try to outflank not just ESPN, but the possible future Fox startup as well.