The deal will see the companies co-produce eight new audio series and will also see Sports Illustrated’s existing podcasts run through the iHeartPodcast Network.
Sports Illustrated will produce editorial and sports analysis podcasts, while Sports Illustrated Studios, which is a joint venture between Yellowstone producer 101 Studios and Sports Illustrated owner Authentic Brands Group, will produce scripted podcasts, limited series and narrative shows.
The first from SI Studios is true crime series Lateral Damage, which 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. It will launch early next year.
Launching later this year is Sports Illustrated Weekly, which will feature the best of the brand’s journalism in audio form. The 45-minute episodes will feature the biggest news of the week.
The deal comes as Sports Illustrated Studios ramps up its content with series such as a docuseries about the sexual abuse and cover-up at Ohio State University, co-produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures, Paradise Found, based on the true story of high school football coach Rick Prinz and feature film Red Rose Crew, based on the riveting true story of the US international women’s crew team.
“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.
“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,” added 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.”
“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.