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Cover story: How the Swimsuit Issue became Sports Illustrated’s cash cow

Published next week, the swimsuit issue is a media event. We slap on the factor 50 and flick through the back issues to learn how it became SI’s saviour.
Feb 5th 2014, 8:07 PM 15,037 4

THE ANNUAL Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue comes out next week and while it is a convenient excuse for sports sites (like this one) to publish photos of girls in bikinis, this story doesn’t have anything to do with sports or sports journalism or even magazine publishing.

(Unless it’s about the death of magazine publishing.)

The story today is how the Swimsuit Issue has turned into its own business and tech empire that, on its own, rivals the magazine that gave birth to it.

The women of the SI SI have taken over TV and the web today, with talk show appearances by models, back-to-back nights on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” a Twitter hashtag, and a multimedia blitz to rival any Apple product launch.

The special magazine also has Android and iPad apps that have become part of a lucrative distribution model (and really the best way to view all the photos).

In fact, with the announcement last year that Sports Illustrated Regular will begin selling digital subscriptions in tandem with the paper magazine, it seems clear that the success of electronic swimwear led the way.

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