From a Front Row Features Staff Reporter
Move over ESPN, there’s a new sports authority set to get in the game.
Authentic Brands Group (ABG) and 101 Studios today announced the formation of Sports Illustrated Studios, the exclusive vehicle to develop, produce and distribute long-form film, television and audio content based on the brand’s present and future work, as well as “Sports Illustrated’s” extensive archives of culture-shaping stories and photography.
The 65-year-old sports news brand in this new venture promises to bring compelling and riveting stories from its pages to the big and small screen with the same voice and journalistic integrity that has defined “SI” throughout its history.
Sports Illustrated Studios will reimagine and recreate these historic moments in sports in new and unexpected ways, as well as create compelling sports lifestyle programming that will appeal to sports fans—and human interest, more broadly. The new studio will be home to feature films, documentaries, scripted and reality TV, miniseries and scripted podcasts. The venture plans an ambitious slate of several television series and feature films per year.
The first project to be announced is a docuseries called “Covers.” Based on “SI’s” top cover stories of all time, each episode will chronicle iconic moments in sports history through this new lens. For decades, being selected to be on the “Sports Illustrated” cover is seen as one of the most sought-after honor in sports. The magazine has published thousands of covers featuring the world’s most disruptive professional athletes including Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Sidney Crosby and Megan Rapinoe as well as influential sports teams, celebrities and political figures. The series will dive into these covers while also giving viewers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what went into creating each of them.
Along with covering the big moments and top athletes on and off the field, “Sports Illustrated” has delivered unique looks at the culture and characters that transcend the game. From recent true crime yarns like the “All-Star Café” heist (a comically botched robbery at a 1990s sports celebrity theme restaurant) and “The Peggy Show” (a trusted advisor who embezzled millions from some of the biggest names in sports) to gripping emotional portraits of perseverance and human spirit (“The Logan Effect,” “Love and Lhotse”), “SI” continues to offer new wrinkles on the sports stories you thought you knew—and tell new ones you didn’t.
101 Studios will be managing and overseeing all production, distribution and marketing for Sports Illustrated Studios in collaboration with ABG.
“At the core of 101 Studios, we seek to tell stories that create cultural conversations, which is the same pillar behind the stories that have been told and continue to be told by Sports Illustrated,” said David Glasser, CEO of 101 Studios, in a statement. “’Sports Illustrated’ has covered every major story in sports since the 1950’s and, before the Internet, they were often the only publication covering the most famous and memorable stories in depth. Through this new partnership, we have the chance to bring these archival and current stories to life in ways people have never seen before.”
“So much of ‘Sports Illustrated’s’ legacy has been built on phenomenal reporting and writing,” said Ross Levinsohn, CEO of Sports Illustrated Media, in a statement. “We are thrilled that the in-depth stories that have come to define Sports Illustrated’s unrivaled storytelling will be further enlivened though this new studio. Now is the perfect time to expand ‘SI’ further into film and television with content that thrills and engages both sports fans and general audiences.”
At the helm of all projects will be as yet unnamed writers, directors and producers who are not only experts at telling stories, but who have an affinity and infatuation for sports.
The inception of SI Studios is a pivotal moment in the evolution of the “Sports Illustrated” brand while also diversifying ABG Entertainment, Authentic Brands Group’s media and entertainment vertical.
“The creation of a studio dedicated to developing original programming is a key building block for the future of ‘Sports Illustrated’ and ABG,” said Jamie Salter, Founder, Chairman and CEO of ABG, owner of Sports Illustrated, in a statement. “Less than a year after acquiring the brand, we have made great strides in tapping the value of this franchise and expanding its reach across sports, culture and entertainment. This partnership is a testament to the strength of ‘SI’ and the ingenuity of 101 Studios.”
Michele Newman from 101 Studios and Aerin Snow and Leif Cervantes de Reinstein from Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton handled the deal for 101 Studios. Corey Salter, Marc Rosen and Colin Smeeton represented ABG.