Welcome to Gridiron Tech, a weekly column highlighting the latest technology trends and how they’re impacting the football industry. In this edition, we take a look at how Sports Illustrated and ESPN are turning their attention to online video programming, plus a look at the newest NFL tourist attraction that is lighting up Times Square.
SI dives into Amazon: Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated slashed its editorial staff in an attempt to shift its sports coverage from articles to predominantly video. Now, it’s launching an independent online video channel. Starting Nov. 16, Time, Inc., is launching Sports Illustrated TV (SITV) as its first-ever OTT channel available on Amazon. For $4.99 per month, viewers will be able to access 130 hours of movies, documentaries and original content programming. Original SITV shows will include, The Vault, SI: Under the Cover, and original weekly studio shows The Crossover, Planet Futbol and The Line. Oscar-nominated and award-winning sports filmmaker Mike Tollin, co-chair of Mandalay Sports Media, and 10-time Emmy winner Jonathan Hock have also been hired to produce two different sports documentary projects slated for 2018. The channel is available at Amazon.com/amazonchannels.
SportsCenter goes Snapchat: The jockeying for online digital platforms continues as ESPN has announced that its flagship show, SportsCenter, will now be available on Snapchat via their mobile app. The show will vary from its TV counterpart as hosts will dress more casually and program content will target the under 25-demographic. The move comes at a time where ESPN is trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding from losing online cable subscribers, while Snap Inc., struggles to meet Wall Street growth expectations since its initial public offering in March. “A year ago we launched Snapchat shows, and currently have 30 to date,” said Sean Mills, Snapchat’s Head of Original Content. “We really wanted to reimagine SportsCenter for a new generation, while still keeping the DNA that makes the show what it is. In today’s world, especially with the younger generations, the ‘mobile screen is the first screen,’ and we’re making a significant investment in producing content for this medium.” Daily episodes will vary in length between 3-5 minutes and are scheduled to air at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET during the week and 5 a.m. ET on the weekends.
Times Square welcomes NFL Experience: If you live in New York or are visiting for the holidays, be sure to check out the much-anticipated NFL Experience, which opens its doors this week in a partnership with Cirque du Soleil, which produces and operates the attraction. The project took 12 weeks of careful planning before construction could even begin, and now is composed of a 38,000-square-foot attraction housed in a 39-story, mixed-use high-rise. It includes a 188-seat, 4-D movie theater with motion-capable seats and weather effects that simulate NFL experiences from the athlete’s standpoint. The space also hosts interactive exhibits and simulated training drills, including running back and tackle challenges and a touchdown dance photo op that can be televised on a 2,120-square-foot digital display in Times Square. While the attraction is designed to draw fans to its interactive displays and technology features, its main purpose is to capitalize on the 26 million visitors who pass through the tourist section of the Big Apple each year. NFL memorabilia and merchandise will be on sale, in addition to food and beverage stands.
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