Time Inc. is betting on the strength of its Sports Illustrated brand for growth.
The New York-based publisher has acquired three companies that it says will “form the foundation of Sports Illustrated Play,” a new business devoted to youth and amateur sports.
The business, which will be led by a former Electronic Arts executive Jeff Karp, will roll out a suite of tools online for player registration, scheduling, communication and scorekeeping.
Two of the acquired companies — League Athletics, based in Tuscon, Ariz., and SportsSignup, based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. — operate digital management tools that post game scores, keep track of schedules, statistics and standings and enable participants to register and communicate online.
The two companies reach more than 8 million players, parents, coaches, administrators and other youth sports participants, including over 8,500 leagues and 300,000 teams, according to Time Inc.
The Los Alamitos, Calif.-based iScore, which was also acquired by Time Inc., operates a scoring app for youth baseball, basketball, soccer and other sports, that provides play-by-play game coverage.
“These acquisitions establish Time Inc.’s position in a youth sports space that now consists of approximately 30 million American athletes aged 5 to 17,” said Time Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Joe Ripp, adding the deals represent “a natural extension of the trusted Sports Illustrated brand.”
In May, Time Inc. bought FanSided, a sports entertainment and lifestyle network of more than 300 Web sites. That deal would give the Sports Illustrated franchise a broader audience and deepen its coverage of the local sports market. This followed Time Inc.’s investment in the digital live-stream company 120 Sports in February 2014.
Last month, Ripp told WWD that acquisitions would play a key role in evolving Time Inc.’s business model from magazine publisher to “content company.” In addition to digital firms, he noted that Time Inc. would invest in experiential firms. On Tuesday, the publisher said it acquired inVNT, a seven-year-old company that specializes in live media, digital and traditional media, brand environments and creative services.
The extension into events not only broadens a title’s reach, but also brings in revenue from advertisers who are looking to cosponsor events. Time Inc. estimated that with inVNT, it will present more than 575 events a year in the consumer and business-to-business space.