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Media Meltdowns

Sports Illustrated May Yet Live

Rose Lobelson, Communications Associate at Sotheby's, points to an image of the Sports Illustrated cover of Wilt Chamberlain in his 'Championship Clinching' 1972 NBA Final jersey, with bandaged-hands after he broke a hand, at Sotheby's Auction House in Beverly Hills, California, on August 1, 2023. The jersey is estimated at $4 million.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

It's been three months since Sports Illustrated staffers were notified that their publication was headed for a shutdown as a result of its publisher, The Arena Group, having its license to the SI brand revoked by its owner, Authentic Brands Group.

The revocation of the license came after The Arena Group failed to make a $3.75 million quarterly payment to Authentic Brands Group. According to The New York Times' Ben Mullin, those publishing rights have now been passed off to Minute Media, which has agreed to buy a 10-year license to publish Sports Illustrated.

What this actually means for Sports Illustrated isn't at all clear. When news of the impending shutdown was delivered to the magazine's staffers in January, many of them were laid off immediately while another contingent was told that they would be axed in 90 days. Minute Media chief executive Asaf Peled spoke to the Times, but was vague about what may or may not happen to SI's current and former staffers:

Minute Media plans to expand the magazine’s publishing operations globally, Mr. Peled said, and to hire back some of the employees whom Arena Group had laid off. He added that he would not know how many employees would return until Minute Media started operating the business this week.


Minute Media will be adding SI to a portfolio that includes The Players' Tribune and Fansided. Peled told the Times that his company's focus is on "short-form sports content creation" that is meant to be seen on mobile devices, and that acquiring the SI license is "an exception to our core strategy."

That this outcome—an iconic publication known for its era-defining sports journalism being acquired by a media company that wants to shovel phone-sized bites of slop to people—is one of the better possible developments for SI tells you everything you need to know about how grim things are in the sports media industry.

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