For the majority of Sports Illustrated’s 70-year history, it has been a print media giant that derived the bulk of its revenue from magazine ads and subscriptions. However, as the internet’s popularity blossomed after the start of the current century, consumers around the world started to develop a growing appetite for online content. This appetite resulted in more traffic to Sports Illustrated’s online platform, but it also produced a lower readership. Taken together, the cumulative effect has been stunted revenue generation capabilities. In 2016, Ross Levinsohn accepted the role of Sports Illustrated CEO. At that time, he inherited this critical challenge.
While Levinsohn was new at Sports Illustrated at the time, he had decades of experience leading major media companies. Prior to becoming the Sports Illustrated CEO, this innovative leader worked in the capacity of CEO at Maven Media. Through this service provider, Levinsohn managed monetization strategies for hundreds of critical media brands. He was impactful in this position by revising money-making efforts for many of his company’s clients. For example, he re-engineered the monetization strategy at The Street with Jim Cramer to accommodate evolving consumer interests. Specifically, The Street’s core content had been around Wall Street news for most of its history. Cryptocurrencies were increasingly a focal point for the brand’s audience, so Levinsohn built a specialized paywall that monetized two new lines of crypto-only content.
This same approach was applied at Sports Illustrated. Levinsohn fine-tuned Sports Illustrated’s monetization strategy by introducing a premium paywall. Behind this paywall, he placed all first-run and early-release stories for premium subscribers to access first. This gave the brand a much-needed financial boost, and it also drove other print-based brands to take a similar approach.
Levinsohn’s hard work at both Sports Illustrated and Maven Media only scratches the surface of this leader’s extensive professional experiences. In some of his most notable roles, Ross Levinsohn guided some of the most influential media companies as a key executive. These media companies include Guggenheim Digital, Whisper Advisors, CBS Sportsline, Yahoo! and many others.