NBC Sports Digital Launches ‘SportsWorld,’ Its Version of ESPN’s Grantland

NBC Sports Digital has launched SportsWorld, a microsite within NBCSports.com dedicated to long-form storytelling stocked with stories, essays, videos and documentary films — an attempt to engage sports fans beyond the news and scores of the day, in a spin similar to ESPN’s Grantland.

The new site, launched Wednesday, is named after NBC Sports’ TV program in the ’80s, which featured global content from multiple sports properties. It’s designed to complement NBCSports.com’s quick and newsier posts by tapping into the Peacock’s “rich history of long-form storytelling,” said Rick Cordella, SVP and g.m. of digital media at NBC Sports Group.

“NBC SportsWorld will create an immersive experience for our users with deep, thoughtful multimedia pieces written and produced by our talented roster of contributors from all facets of the NBC Sports Group,” Cordella said.

NBC SportsWorld will feature long-form pieces, presented in a wide-margin layout and full-screen images. Contributors include lead writer Joe Posnanski, Joe Prince-Wright of ProSoccerTalk and Nick Zaccardi of OlympicTalk. Writers with other NBC Sports Group properties also will contribute to the site, including staffers at regional sports networks such as CSN Bay Area’s Ray Ratto; GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; and fantasy-sports site RotoWorld.com.

Posnanski, who joined NBC Sports as national columnist in February 2013, was previously a senior writer at Sports Illustrated columnist at the Kansas City Star.

“This was sort of the vision when Rick Cordella hired me — that we would launch this site and explore in-depth writing and video,” he said. “It’s exactly what I want.” Posnanski’s lead piece on the newly launched site is a 4,400-word in-depth interview with race-car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (pictured, above), who just turned 40, about his life, career and relationship with his father.

Posnanski acknowledged similarities to ESPN’s Grantland and other long-form websites (although Grantland, in addition to covering sports, also delves into pop-culture and entertainment topics). “This is our effort to get into the space about telling stories in a big way,” he said. But, he noted, in addition to long reads, NBC SportsWorld will include a broad array of video produced by the NBC Olympics and Golf Channel Films divisions.

At launch, SportsWorld will offer films including: “Nancy & Tonya,” in which Mary Carillo looks back at the events surrounding the ladies’ figure skating competition at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games; “Lokomotiv,” narrated by Liev Schreiber, chronicling the crash of an airplane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), killing 44 of 45 people on board; “Arnie,” about golfing legend Arnold Palmer; and “Payne,” a documentary about the life and death of golf champion Payne Stewart.

Other content for NBC SportsWorld’s launch will include a dispatch by Posnanski as he travels with the Kansas City Royals in their unlikely postseason run; CSN Bay Area’s Ratto on the connections between NFL quarterbacks, from Joe Montana to John Elway and Colin Kaepernick to Peyton Manning; and Prince-Wright’s profile of Bob Bradley, former coach of the U.S. men’s national soccer team who’s now head coach of Norway’s first-division Stabaek club.

NBC SportsWorld also will publish a weekly newsletter on Fridays, recapping the previous week’s content.

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