The jobs of those who produce Sports Illustrated came to a standstill on Friday after the company that paid for the magazine's print and digital products told staff it had been stripped of its licenses.
Arena Group, which operates Sports Illustrated and related properties, said in an email to employees Friday morning that it will be “furloughing staff associated with the SI brand” in response to the cancellation.
Authentic Brands Group owns the Sports Illustrated brand and licensed it to Arena. Authentic later said in a statement that it intended to continue with Sports Illustrated. The company was not authorized to speak publicly about the talks and is negotiating with Arena and other publishing organizations to decide who will conduct them, a person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. It is said that there is.
Until those negotiations are resolved, it's unclear which journalists will actually work on Sports Illustrated. It is not clear how many jobs were affected.
The Sports Illustrated employee union said in a statement that the layoffs initially announced by Arena will involve a significant number of News Guild employees, possibly all of them.
“As a union, we have fought together to maintain the standards of this prestigious publication we love and to ensure that our employees are treated fairly and commensurate with the value they bring to this company. This is a fight we will continue to fight,” NFL editor and unit chair Mitch Goldich said in a statement.
The guild's statement also called on Authentic to “ensure SI's continued publication and enable us to serve our readers in the way we have for nearly 70 years.”
Authentic said it intends to do so and is “confident that the brand will continue to evolve and grow in ways that benefit sports news readers, sports fans and consumers.” We are committed to ensuring that Sports Illustrated, a pillar of traditional advertising-supported media, receives best-in-class management to maintain the full integrity of the brand's heritage. I'm here. ”
Arena Group said in a statement Friday that it is in negotiations with Authentic regarding the license and “plans to maintain our commitment to providing quality content through ongoing discussions.”
Arena admitted that it had failed to make quarterly payments of $3.75 million, and Authentic notified it that it intended to terminate the license agreement. As a result, Arena announced Thursday that it would “significantly reduce” its workforce by more than 100 people.
Arena Group acquired at least 10 years of publishing rights from Authentic in 2019. Since then, the group's control of Sports Illustrated has been fraught with hurdles. In December, the magazine fired CEO Ross Levinson after the magazine sparked public backlash over its alleged use of AI-generated articles.
The six years at Sports Illustrated were tough. It was acquired by Meredith Publishing in 2018 as part of the acquisition of Time Inc., which founded the magazine in 1954.
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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 was once a weekly magazine, reduced to a biweekly magazine in 2018, and became a monthly magazine in 2020.
JOE REEDY and DAVID BAUDER, AP Sports Writers