There’s no doubt that the swimsuit issue is a major driving force for Sports Illustrated. It accounts for 7 percent of SI’s annual revenue, and as Bloomberg News put it, is the Super Bowl of the publishing world.
But this year’s issue, which came out Tuesday, could mark a turning point for the iconic sports magazine (and possibly for Time Inc.), as it uses the swimsuit edition to help transition more from print to digital, according to Bloomberg.
Readers can now interact with the issue on their smart phones with features like voting on the Swimsuit rookie class of 2012 (which is pretty spectacular), and instead of simply looking at still shots, readers can now watch behind-the-scenes interviews with the models as they run around and roll in the sand. Plus, you can listen to some exotic accents, which is pretty glorious. Of course, ladies (who apparently make up 1/3 of the swimsuit readership) can see what the swimsuits look like in action.
By showing readers these features with its biggest annual issue, SI can promote its new format in which it will offer digital only, or combination digital-print subscriptions. Print only subscriptions will no longer be available.
Meanwhile, the swimsuit issue can be just as important for the models as it is for the magazine. As Meredith Viera pointed out during cover model Irina Shayk‘s Today Show appearance, Brooklyn Decker was on the cover last year, and is now starring in “Just Go With It,” the highest grossing movie in the U.S. last week.
So which SI Swimsuit rookie will make the leap this year? Peruse the photos below, and tell us who you think will be the biggest name of the bunch 5 years from now. And to see more photos of the SI swimsuit issue’s rookies, click here.