Turner Sports, SI.com Take Fans Behind the Mic

As part of a newly minted digital partnership, Turner Sports and the Sports Illustrated Group have launched an online video franchise titled Behind the Mic. Each week, the video series, which lives on SI.com, features several 90-second segments during which sports broadcasters speak directly to fans about current topics in their respective sports. The number of videos published each week is limited only by the creativity of the talent, and, with a roster that lists Cris Collinsworth, Doug Flutie, Cal Ripken, and Phil Simms, among others, that means plenty of content for SI.com.

“We’re a content company,” says Craig Barry, SVP of creative and content for Turner Sports. “With this new relationship with SI, we wanted to make sure that we got out of the blocks on our first content initiative with a lot of credibility and some great sports star power. Behind the Mic is designed to have very topical content that comes out almost every day and showcases the top journalistic personalities from a broadcast perspective. It is under the portal of Sports Illustrated, since SI is a truly universal brand, but it’s definitely a Turner Sports initiative.”

Each week, SI writers and editors come up with subject matter based on that week’s events in each sport that is relevant to the talent. Those content suggestions are delivered to the talent, who usually choose an additional topic for discussion. The spots are then taped, either as three separate 90-second bits or integrated into a single video for posting.

“The spots are about these guys’ talking almost person-to-person, or person-to-fan, about the subject matter that they know really well,” Barry explains. “We like to think of it as a more candid platform than it would be on their network shows, so we’ve created a very casual atmosphere. The spots are taped in offices, on couches in their homes, or outside of the studios where they work. Everybody’s chipping in to make sure that the content gets back to us.”

During the spots, a single broadcaster talks to the fans, and his commentary is interlaced with photography from the Sports Illustrated archive, which creates an effective synergy between the two brands. New videos are posted Monday through Thursday on SI.com, but Barry says there is no rhyme or reason as to what spot goes up when.

“As soon as we get the content in, we turn it around and post it the same day,” he says. “All of the content is topical, so we want to get it out there as soon as we can.”

Other on-air personalities who will participate in the Behind the Mic franchise are Charles Barkley, Boomer Esiason, Nick Faldo, Howie Long, Kevin McHale, Reggie Miller, and Kenny Smith.

“Behind the Mic is our first collaborative product since our recent partnership announcement with SI.com and one we envision bringing thoughtful discussion to their passionate fan base through some of the most candid voices in sports broadcasting,” says David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports, for Turner Broadcasting System. “It represents one of our key goals through this collaboration: providing the fans, through our joint industry resources, with high-quality, timely video content. This is, without a doubt, a great collection of broadcast talent assembled, and SI.com users will enjoy their informative and entertaining insights.”