Sports Illustrated Offers All Access Subscriptions for Android (No iPad)

Sports Illustrated announced Friday a new all-access subscription plan for the magazine fittingly called “All Access.” The subscription plan will allow customers to read SI in print, online, and on Android tablets and smartphones - iOS devices need not apply, including the genre-defining tablet known colloquially as “iPad.”

Sports Illustrated All Access

Sports Illustrated “All Access” Subscriptions - Wither iPad in This Picture?

The announcement comes amidst a (mostly) behind-the-scenes battle between publishers and Apple on how subscription models will work, with Apple being rumored to want to forbid any kind of subscription access through iOS apps unless the subscription is handled in-app, where Apple controls the transaction and gets a cut.

We don’t actually know if Apple is planning such a structure for subscriptions, but the only publication to yet offer subscriptions on the iPad — News Corp.’s The Daily — follows this model. Publishers want access to subscriber info, and aren’t keen on sharing 30% of the subscription with Apple.

In that light, some mainstream columnists are already characterizing today’s Android-centric “All Access” announcement as being part of Time Inc.’s — one of the largest publishers in the world — strategy to gain better terms from Apple.

Of course, SI does have a presence in the App Store in the form of Sports Illustrated Magazine. This app offers access to the entire magazine, but one must make an in-app purchase for each issue. The holy grail for newspaper and magazine publishers alike have been to get readers to subscribe to the digital forms of these publications, which is where the behind-the-scenes negotiations and jockeying stem from.

Back to Friday’s All Access announcement, Time officially released new apps for Samsung’s Galaxy tablet (note the necessity to specify the app for a single Android tablet, but that’s another story) and Android smartphones. Readers can access SI issues through these apps in one of three ways:

  • Print/Digital (Samsung Galaxy/Android Smartphone/Web): $48 annually or $4.99/month
  • Digital Only: $3.99/month
  • Current print subscribers have free access to the digital package throughout the remainder of their term

“This is a significant step in delivering Sports Illustrated’s award-winning journalism to sports fans everywhere and in any way they want it,” Mark Ford, Time Inc. EVP and President of its Sports Group, said in a statement. “The new subscription options give consumers flexibility and convenience they desire and ensures that our multiple revenue streams continue to grow.”

We should also note that readers can access the HTML-5 powered version of the magazine through a browser on the iPad, and Time’s announcement hints (though vaguely) that iOS access to this model could come in the future.