Times Paying $550M for Athletic

Sports site brings 1.2M new owner subscribers
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2022 6:20 PM CST
Times paying $550M for Athletic
The New York Times building in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

The Athletic, which has been looking for a buyer for months, has found one. The New York Times announced Thursday that it's reached an agreement to acquire the subscription-based sports media outlet in an all-cash deal worth $550 million, Axios reports. The Times said its new subsidiary will operate separately. The Times Co.'s CEO told investors Thursday that The Athletic will be sold as a separate subscription at first and eventually included in a "broader Times bundle." In after-hours trading, shares of the Times fell slightly.

The sports outlet has lost nearly $100 million over the past two years, per the Information. The Times said revenue last year was about $65 million and operating losses about $55 million. The attraction for the Times Co., which has $1 billion in cash to draw on, is The Athletic's subscribers; the Times has been working toward a goal of 10 million subscribers, print and digital combined, by 2025. The company said Thursday that goal now will be raised significantly.

The Athletic's competitors include Bleacher Report, Yahoo Sports, and ESPN.com. The Times Co. said its new property had 1.2 million subscribers as of last month, per the Wall Street Journal. The Athletic launched in 2016, recruiting big names in sports journalism locally, often with big pay increases. It laid off staff members early in the pandemic but has resumed hiring lately, and has around 400 editorial employees and 600 total. The top business-side executives, who founded The Athletic, will remain and will report to bosses at the Times Co., a statement said. (More mergers and acquisitions stories.)

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