Late last year, Meredith Corp.’s Sports Illustrated launched its first over-the-top streaming video service, SI TV -- available through Amazon Channels for $4.99 monthly,
with a library of sports-themed movies and documentaries, plus studio interviews. The pub was still owned by Time Inc. then.
Now, however, the company is rethinking SI TV, embracing a new model as a 24/7 linear channel. The service is still available through Amazon, but Meredith is betting that by adding SI TV to “skinny” bundles of video content, far more people will be able to access it than if it remained standalone.
SI TV’s first distributor as a 24/7 linear channel will be Fubo TV, the streaming video bundle designed for sports fans. SI TV will be standard in the “Sports Plus” package and will feature a linear feed of SI TV content, joined by the channel’s on-demand library.
The model is like that of PeopleTV, the other major streaming service from Meredith, which has always been free to watch, both as a standalone app, and in streaming video bundles.
SI TV, of course, still requires a fee to subscribe, either through Fubo, or as a standalone.
SI’s pivot to linear and embrace of the bundle hints at a tempting future for publishers and other media companies. A channel with compelling content that can be offered at a lower price than a legacy cable channel has the potential to meet the needs of both consumers and distributors, as well as advertisers that may be priced out of those legacy channels.