Sports Illustrated’s newest digital product launches today — without a standalone iPad app. Based on a framework developed for use across Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX), SI will showcase its photography with ad-supported Front Row as an app on the iPhone, Android devices with *Adobe* Air, on Chrome through its web app SI Snapshot and, on the iPad, as a featured section on Flipboard.
To borrow from an old ad campaign, It’s two mints in one — a chance for SI to create a new series/revenue stream that starts with the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament and a proof of concept for Time Inc.’s efforts to simplify production and amortize development costs across publications.
Front Row is based on the notion of a container app where the content can change regularly without rebuilding the basic app or having to resubmit multiple versions for Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) App Store approval. In this case, SI promises a front-row seat at major events including the Stanley Cup, the World Series, the Masters, Wimbledon and the 2012 Olympics. Lexus is the launch sponsor.
It’s also the latest way SI is trying to capitalize on having far more material than it can use in print. Josh Quittner, editorial director of digital for news, sports and business group, said they were looking for another way play to the strengths of SI‘s photography. He describes Front Row as “really brilliant photographs in near time.” The apps have scores but he says the intent is “to have the last word, not the first word.” The Flipboard version includes SI‘s writers via Twitter.
Quittner offered the Entertainment Weekly Must List app as an example of another container app that can be used by other magazines for very different content. “One of the wonderful things about this is an app that might have cost a couple of hundred thousand to create and you get to amortize it over time til no costs eventually.” That’s especially true when something is designed with flow to multiple platforms in mind.