Weeks After Layoffs, Sports Illustrated Publishing Rights Move to Minute Media

Sports Illustrated has a new home.

Weeks after mass layoffs hit the iconic sports publication Sports Illustrated under Arena Group Holdings, the owner of the brand rights to the outlet has found a new home.

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Authentic Brands Group says that Minute Media has obtained the publishing rights to SI, which will officially part ways with Arena Group.

Minute Media owns The Players’ Tribune (which was founded by Yankees legend Derek Jeter), Mental Floss, FanSided and 90Min. In a statement, the company said that it “plans to honor the legendary status of Sports Illustrated by pushing toward technological innovation, catering to a wider audience on a global scale while also maintaining the core mission of the brand.” ABG will acquire an equity stake in Minute Media as part of the deal.

Sports Illustrated is the gold standard for sports journalism and has been for nearly 70 years across both print and digital media,” said Asaf Peled, founder and CEO of Minute Media. “The weight and power of that distinction cannot be understated. At Minute Media, our focus will be to take that legacy into new, emerging channels enhancing visibility, commercial viability and sustainable impact, all while ensuring that the SI team is inspired to flourish in this new era of media.”

Sources say that Minute Media intends to bring over much if not all of the SI staff, though the company is just taking over operations today and needs to take stock of where things stand with the publication. The deal also includes the SI swimsuit edition, and SI for Kids.

“We have said from the start that our top priorities are to keep Sports Illustrated alive, uphold the legacy of the institution and protect our union jobs. We look forward to discussing a future with Minute Media that does that,” said Emma Baccellieri, staff writer for SI and vice chair for the SI Union, in a statement.

ABG, which is in the brand licensing business, acquired SI in 2019, and has been licensing the name for products and goods (including hotels and sports books), while selling the publishing rights to Arena Group. However, Arena failed to make a critical payment, triggering a clause allowing ABG to seek other partners.

SI, which was first published in 1954, has had a tumultuous few years. Created by Time founder Henry Luce, SI was a part of the Time Inc. portfolio for decades. In 2018, Meredith Corp. acquired Time and its publications, including SI, but would go on to sell many of them, including the company namesake (Time is now owned by Salesforce founder Marc Benioff), and SI, which was sold to ABG.

“In Minute Media we have found a partner that will honor SI’s lauded legacy and exceed fan expectations for the future,” ABG executie vice chairman Daniel W. Dienst added. “As Minute Media shepherds the SI brand across a rapidly evolving media landscape, our priority at Authentic is — and has always been — to protect its journalistic integrity and longevity. Minute Media has successfully proven that they are leading the way in a new era of sports storytelling, and we are excited and optimistic about this partnership and the future of Sports Illustrated as the preeminent lens into sport.”

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