iHeartMedia announced a multi-year exclusive agreement to co-produce eight original podcasts with award-winning sports media brand Sports Illustrated and newly formed joint venture Sports Illustrated Studios. The iHeartPodcast Network will distribute all eight original titles as well as distribute Sports Illustrated's existing podcasts across iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are heard. Additionally, mutual marketing and promotion commitments will apply to all joint projects. Two of the eight original podcasts are scheduled to launch by Q1 2022.
"We are thrilled to partner with Sports Illustrated to introduce a brand-new slate of sports podcasts – limited series and ongoing shows alike, distributed to listeners everywhere," said Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group. "It's an iconic brand that sports fans instantly trust, knowing that they will get the most credible and in-depth industry coverage, and we look forward to expanding that footprint into the audio space through the iHeartPodcast Network, where we uniquely have the reach and scale to bring Sports Illustrated the audience and monetization they deserve."
The audio partnership will build upon Sports Illustrated's deep bench of world-renowned journalists and continue its legacy of unique storytelling that unites athletes, teams and fans worldwide. The Sports Illustrated label will include editorial-focused content and analysis from the storied media franchise while the Sports Illustrated Studios label will provide scripted and limited series content.
Set to debut later this year, "Sports Illustrated Weekly" is a weekly podcast that will feature the best of Sports Illustrated's unrivaled journalism in a premium audio magazine. Each 45-minute episode will feature deep-dive segments on the biggest news of the week and the most compelling personalities, trends and themes in sports, on and off the field. More details including its host will be announced at a later date.
"Storytelling is at the core of what SI stands for, and the opportunity to partner with iHeart to create and distribute dynamic stories and shows featuring our incredible voices further expands our footprint," said Ross Levinsohn, CEO of Sports Illustrated & Maven. Today, Sports Illustrated reaches more than 50M monthly visitors across all integrated site channels.
Developed by SI Studios, "Lateral Damage" will offer an innovative take on the true-crime genre. Publishing early next year, the podcast tells the story of University of California, Berkeley college football player Mariet Ford, who was an instrumental part of "The Play," one of the most electrifying plays in sports history. He was later convicted of viciously murdering his young son and pregnant wife. Maintaining his innocence for almost 25 years, the podcast will explore the indelible effect the murder has had on the core group of people in Ford's sphere.
"While traditionally sports are very visually focused, this venture allows us to introduce audiences to the most memorable events in sports history in unexpected ways, which is precisely the foundation of SI Studios. With this new partnership, Sports Illustrated, the most trusted brand in sports, and iHeartMedia, the industry's leading podcast publisher and distributor, we have the unique opportunity to tell these historic, remarkable stories to audiences globally," said David Hutkin, COO of 101 Studios, who in partnership with Authentic Brands Group (ABG), owner of the Sports Illustrated brand, formed Sports Illustrated Studios in 2020.
The Sports Illustrated podcast slate will be distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network which is home to more than 750 original podcasts with over 250 million downloads each month. iHeartRadio Original Podcasts span every category from business, sports, spirituality and technology to entertainment, family, comedy and true crime – and everything in between – making iHeartRadio the largest publisher of podcast content in the world. These shows are distributed on all major podcast platforms including the iHeartRadio app, which additionally distributes hundreds of thousands third-party shows.