Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated is returning to cable and satellite TV — in Asia.
The media and publishing company announced a pact with Hong Kong-based sports programmer ASN to develop a Sports Illustrated-branded sports broadcasting and digital network, slated to debut this spring across Asia.
Under the deal, the ASN and ASN2 pay-TV sports channels, companion websites and mobile apps will be rebranded as “Sports Illustrated” and “Sports Illustrated 2.” The companies also will collaborate on daily programming development, coverage of global sporting events and expansion of worldwide distribution across linear networks, subscription VOD, and digital and mobile platforms.
ASN’s two English-language channels, ASN and ASN2, reach 29 million homes via 20 operators in 12 territories, including Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
The two SI-branded TV channels are the first television properties Time Inc. is launching since the 2014 spinoff from Time Warner. Under the wing of AOL Time Warner, the sports mag worked with then-sister cable channel CNN for CNNSI, a sports news network that launched in 1996 and folded in 2002 after achieving limited distribution.
“This groundbreaking partnership speaks to the power of all our brands — in this case, Sports Illustrated — and enables us to build a significant international presence across new platforms,” said Steve Marcopoto, president of Time Inc. International. “Our partners at ASN have built a strong foundation, and together we look forward to creating a differentiated and compelling sports network in the most populous region in the world.”
The new Sports Illustrated/Sports Illustrated 2 networks will feature a mix of event coverage and original video programming from SI Group brands (SI, SI Kids and FanSided) surrounding live — and in some markets, exclusive — broadcasts of popular sports leagues and events. That will include the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup finals and NCAA March Madness.
ASN debuted in 2008 as the region’s first 24-hour pan-Asian HD sports network featuring live U.S. sports content. The network has rights deals with the NFL, NHL, NCAA football and basketball, and NASCAR, among other content partnerships.
“We feel that the partnership with Time Inc. is a recognition of our position as the ‘Home of American Sports in Asia,'” said Tom Kressner, CEO and Founder of ASN. “In the coming months, we will bring an unparalleled amount of high-caliber sports content to more platforms and in more local languages than ever.”
Under the deal, Time Inc. will provide the infrastructure technology for the SI networks’ websites and mobile apps. The two companies will collaborate on marketing and advertising sales opportunities. “There is tremendous potential for Sports Illustrated to flourish as a global sports brand,” said Rich Battista, Time Inc. EVP and president of Entertainment and Sports Group and Video.
Time Inc. has licensed local print editions of Sports Illustrated in China (along with a website) and India.