Sports Illustrated will continue operations after agreement reached with new publisher

Sports Illustrated will continue operations after the company that owns the brand reached an agreement with a new publisher for its print and digital products.

Minute Media took over on Monday after reaching a licensing agreement with Authentic Brands Group. On January 19, Authentic announced it was revoking The Arena Group’s publishing license after Arena failed to make a quarterly payment.

Authentic has been in negotiations with Arena, Minute Media and other publishers for the past two months.

Authentic will acquire an equity stake in Minute Media, which also publishes online sites The Players’ Tribune, FanSided and 90min. Other terms, including the duration of the deal, were not disclosed.

“Sports Illustrated is the gold standard for sports journalism and has been for almost 70 years in both print and digital media. The weight and power of that distinction cannot be underestimated. At Minute Media, our focus will be on bringing that legacy to new, emerging channels, improving visibility, commercial viability and sustainable impact, while ensuring the SI team is inspired to thrive in this new media age,” said the founder of Minute Media. and CEO Asaf Peled said in a statement.

What this means for the writers and others who produce Sports Illustrated remains to be seen. Minute Media will begin meeting with SI employees in the coming weeks as it determines how many of the staff it will retain, according to a person with knowledge of the transition. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about him or her.

SI co-editor-in-chief Stephen Cannella told employees in a memo to continue operating as if things were business as usual for now.

“We have said from the beginning that our top priorities are keeping Sports Illustrated alive, upholding the institution’s legacy and protecting our union jobs. We look forward to discussing a future with Minute Media that does just that,” said Emma Baccellieri, an SI staff writer and vice president of the employees union representing the NewsGuild.

The Arena Group acquired Authentic’s publishing rights in 2019 for a minimum of 10 years, but faced many hurdles. In December, it fired CEO Ross Levinsohn when the magazine’s alleged use of AI-generated stories sparked public backlash.

Sports Illustrated has had a tough six years. It was acquired by Meredith Publishing in 2018 as part of its purchase of Time Inc., which founded the magazine in 1954.

Less than a year later, Meredith sold the magazine’s intellectual property to Authentic for $110 million. Authentic owns the intellectual property of many brands and stars, including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali and Reebok.

Sports Illustrated, once a weekly publication, was reduced to a biweekly publication in 2018 and a monthly publication in 2020.

“In Minute Media, we have found a partner that will honor SI’s acclaimed legacy and exceed fans’ expectations for the future. As Minute Media navigates the SI brand through a rapidly evolving media landscape, our priority at Authentic is – and always has been – to protect its journalistic integrity and longevity,” said Daniel W. Dienst, Executive Vice Chairman, Tactical Ops from Authentic. rack. “Minute Media has successfully proven itself as a leader in a new era of sports storytelling, and we are excited and optimistic about this partnership and Sports Illustrated’s future as the preeminent lens for sports.”


Associated Press Media writer David Bauder contributed to this report.


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