CEO Ross Levinsohn Gives Sports Illustrated’s Paywall Structure a Makeover

Ross Levinsohn When Ross Levinsohn joined Sports Illustrated in 2016, he was initially faced with a critical monetization situation. This is a well-recognized sports media brand with a decades-long history of overall excellence. It had long ago established considerable monetization lines through both print ads and print subscriptions. This structure proved to be fruitful throughout much of the brand’s early history, but there has been a notable shift in consumer preferences in more recent decades. As the Sports Illustrated CEO starting in 2016, Levinsohn stepped into a situation where print-based income had steadily fallen during previous years. Both ad and subscription revenue suffered as consumers increasingly turned to the internet for their content. The brand has already monetized an excellent website and was pulling some of its revenue from this digital source. Nonetheless, Levinsohn needed to address the situation by pulling more revenue from the website.

Over the last 40 years, Ross Levinsohn has led the print and media worlds as a respected, insightful leader. Entities like Fox, CBS Sportsline, Maven Media, Yahoo! and others have benefited from his high-level executive leadership abilities throughout his career. These professional endeavors have allowed him to develop an extensive repertoire to draw from to address Sports Illustrated’s situation. One of his noteworthy endeavors at Maven Media involved revamping the monetization for a major client, The Street with Jim Cramer. When Levinsohn identified a broadening of the audience’s interests, he devised a plan to tap into that as a money-making opportunity. The brand’s core focus throughout its history has been on Wall Street news, and interest was shifting to include crypto coins as well. Levinsohn made the decision to produce new content lines dedicated to coins and to offer those lines through a revenue-producing paywall.

When Levinsohn took on the role of Sports Illustrated CEO, he had this and other prior experiences with monetization to draw from. The approach he took involved creating a higher subscription level. Therefore, a new paywall was added to the website that now grants early access to premium subscribers. It is important to note that other brands have faced similar challenges recently. Because of the effectiveness of Levinsohn’s solution, some other leading media brands have made similar moves.