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Sports Illustrated Poised To Build Paywall For Readers

  • Starting Feb. 2, SI.com is expected to put a metered paywall in front of much of its premium content.
  • Many U.S. publishers are tightening paywalls and reducing number of free articles.
Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content Services

Sports Illustrated plans to institute a paywall for SI.com, sources told Front Office Sports.

Starting Feb. 2, the venerable Maven-owned sports publication is expected to set up a metered paywall around much of its “premium content,” said sources.

Exclusive news, behind-the-scenes interviews and special photography are all on the table. An SI representative declined to comment.

Metered paywalls typically allow readers access to a certain number of articles before they have to subscribe.

SI has not finalized that number of free articles or a possible subscription price, said sources. But one source said SI hopes to create a model where readers could pay up to $5.99 a month for premium content. 

The Athletic, SI’s subscription-based competitor, currently charges $4.99 a month for an annual subscription (with seven days free), or $7.99 per month.

SI currently charges $20 for a one-year, 16-issue subscription to its flagship print magazine, or $30 for a two-year, 32-issue subscription.

SI is not alone. Many U.S. publishers have been tightening up their paywalls. Just a few years ago, readers gained access to 10 or more free stories; now most offer five or fewer free articles per month.

The projected starting date would help SI build off fan excitement for Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 between Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs.

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