Today marks the start of Sports Illustrated writer Peter King’s site The MMQB. The new site will be focused on all things NFL and will feature a staff of King along with three regular writers. The site also plans to have athletes write guest articles. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has already agreed to write a series of columns for the upcoming football season, the first of which is already posted.
The idea for the site spawned out of King’s contract-extension negotiations with Sports Illustrated last December. The new property is still owned by SI, but King will have considerably more input into editorial decisions than he did at SI.com. He described his mindset to the Buffalo News in an interview:
“I have been there for 24 years, 24 football seasons,” he said. “I just thought, who knows how much longer I have to go. I’m 56 years old but I thought there’s something else that might be fun to do.”
The site’s name comes from King’s weekly NFL column, Monday Morning Quarterback, which will still be a running feature on the new site. The reason the site’s URL is “theMMQB.com” because “MMQB.com” is owned by an office furnishing website. They even posted a very professional “Really Dude?” response on their own site:
The MMQB isn’t breaking any new ground in sports media. The startup has more than a few similarities to ESPN’s Grantland that launched over two years ago. They’re both the long-form subsidiaries of sports media giants and both are run by popular sports writers, Bill Simmons for Grantland and King for MMQB.
The main difference between the two is subject matter. Grantland is broadly focused on all of sports and pop-culture, while King chose to focus in on the professional football. A savvy move, a narrower focus should lead to a less chaotic startup along with more affordable startup costs for Sports Illustrated.
Sites such as The MMQB and Grantland signal a small but definite move back to long-form writing. The shutdown of newspapers and the rise of twitter has created a gap in the market for longer sports columns. Now ESPN and Sports Illustrated have thrown money behind filling this gap and only time will tell if either or both of them can survive in the highly competitive sports media marketplace.