In Depth

Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports Plan a TV Series -- Effort Joins Specials (and One Reality Show) About Swimsuit Issue

By Nat Ives
Advertising Age

Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports have teamed up to produce a monthly, hour-long TV series beginning July 24, the companies said today.

The show, called "Sports Illustrated," is sponsored by Lexus but will include commercials for other advertisers. The magazine, part of Time Warner's Time Inc. division, and NBC Sports, part of Comcast's NBC Universal, are sharing production costs and revenue.

Magazines have long wanted a bigger role on TV, but have found the most success either in one-off specials or supporting parts on series like "Project Runway," which has included Nina Garcia in her capacity as an editor first at Elle and then at Marie Claire.

"Sports Illustrated," which will run on NBC Sports Network and NBC, is slated for five episodes. Sports Illustrated and Time Warner sibling HBO are collaborating on another hour-long series scheduled for five episodes, "Sport in America: Our Defining Stories," that is due next year. The magazine and HBO also have a partnership around "Real Sports."

But Sports Illustrated's previous TV ventures have most often revolved around the Swimsuit Issue, with "making of" specials on various networks and a NBC reality series called "Sports Illustrated's Fresh Faces Competition" that ran six episodes in 2005. The new series with NBC Sports will focus on athletes, sports and features from the magazine.