“It has been a difficult four years for Sports Illustrated under the management of Arena Group (formerly The Maven), and today is another difficult day,” the union said in a statement. calls on ABG to ensure and allow the continued issuance of SI.” To serve our viewers the way we have for nearly 70 years. ”
ABG has owned the magazine since 2019, when it sold the publishing rights to a company called Arena Group. Arena Group's recent failure to pay for these publishing rights led ABG to withdraw the publishing license, putting the future of Sports Illustrated in jeopardy.
“As a result of this license revocation, we will be furloughing staff working on the SI brand,” a memo to staff said, with some employees facing immediate dismissal and others being put on hold for 90 days. He added that he would work until the end of his term. notice period.
ABG has not disclosed to staff its future publishing plans or whether it will sell publishing rights to another company. Sports Illustrated's bargaining department has about 80 employees.
The magazine was founded by Henry Luce in 1954 as part of the Time empire. With its striking color photography and extensive long-form journalism, it quickly became the most important sports publication in the country. His weekly magazine for SI, with articles by writers such as Dan Jenkins, Frank Deford and Gary Smith, became reading material for generations of sports fans and redefined the concept of sports journalism.
But like other Time magazine titles, Sports Illustrated has struggled to adapt to the Internet age. Its website was notoriously boring, and its 24/7 news cycle was not suitable for weekly sports coverage. The publishing industry has been hollowed out due to multiple rounds of layoffs.
Time Inc. sold SI to magazine publisher Meredith Corporation in 2018, which sold it the following year to Authentic Brands Group, a licensing and merchandise company with no journalism background. (When ABG acquired Sports Illustrated, more than 30 percent of its staff were laid off.)
ABG sought to monetize the SI brand with plans for resorts, casinos and brain energy drugs, while selling publishing rights to Arena Group for $15 million a year.
This is a developing story and will be updated.