Internet

Sports Illustrated puts swimsuits online

Time Warner will charge $7.95 for the online version of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition, the first such effort by the media giant.

Time Warner tonight launches its popular Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition on the Web for Netizens who are willing to pay $7.95, the latest example of a media giant tapping moneymaking opportunities on the Net.

Dubbed Sports Illustrated Swimsuit '98 Extra, the site features "exclusive" photos and "behind-the-scenes" videos of the swimsuit models. It goes online tonight and video clips will be added on Thursday. The cover of the annual edition, one of the print media giant's best-selling magazines, was posted on the Web last night.

The online version of the swimsuit edition is part of CNNSI.com, the sports site of Time Warner's Internet service on the Web.

It marks the third year Sports Illustrated has debuted the cover of the swimsuit edition online. But it is the first year the magazine has charged for an online version of the swimsuit edition. A spokesman said the magazine doesn't know yet how many have signed up for the pay-per-view content. Some content from the swimsuit Web site still will be offered for free.

To access the paid content, users are asked to become a member of Pathfinder, Time Warner's online network. Users are required to provide some personal information, including name, address, and birth date. Users pay for swimsuit edition subscriptions with credit cards.

Media companies such as Time Warner increasingly are putting more of their content online. They see moneymaking potential, not only from selling ads but also by selling content. The Net's wide reach and low distribution costs makes it highly attractive to them.

The group that is charging for online content remains small, but includes the likes of Disney, Dow Jones (publisher of the Wall Street Journal), and Playboy, among others.

Last month, Playboy said it would spin off its new media operations from publishing, apparently a sign of the company's success on the Web.