In a corporate synergy move that could signal how difficult it is for magazines to build a lucrative business online, Sports Illustrated has turned over the business operations for its SI.com to Turner Broadcasting. Turner manages a slew of high-profile sports sites.
The deal brings the ad sales and marketing for SI.com under the same umbrellas as NASCAR.com and NBA.com. The arrangement is between SI parent Time Inc. and Turner. Both are part of Time Warner.
Turner has been innovative in offering streaming video of live NASCAR and NBA events online, and would be expected to try and upgrade video offerings on the Sports Illustrated site.
It is unclear whether Turner will be able to repurpose video from some of the currently managed sites. A natural link would be its PGA.com, with SI spinoff Golf.com.
Turner has a deal to begin carrying the NCAA tournament next year on TBS, TNT, TruTV and the Web. And it's likely that the March Madness on Demand offering will be staged in some fashion on SI.com.
Sports Illustrated and Turner Broadcasting's CNN unit have partnered before, including on a CNN/SI cable network that ran from 1996-2002 before distribution and sales hurdles scotched it. More recently, SI.com has been part of a CNN online network that includes other Time Inc. publications.
The magazine will continue to control the editorial content on SI.com, as well as its iPad app and other iterations. The publication and Turner are looking to strike ad deals that cover magazine pages, Web sites and on-air spots.