Meredith Corp. has announced the sale of the Sports Illustrated brand to entertainment company Authentic Brands Group for $110 million. The deal includes the magazine’s intellectual property, like its photo archive and rights to its past covers and issues.
For 65 years, Sports Illustrated dominated sports journalism, covering professional, collegiate and amateur sports. However, societal shifts in how people consume information and news chipped away at its core audience and subscription numbers began to decline. A Meredith spokeswoman has said that Sports Illustrated remains profitable at its 27-issue-per-year schedule.
Under the terms of the deal, Meredith will continue to publish the magazine and run its website for up to two years. During this time, Meredith will pay Authentic Brands a licensing fee and maintain editorial independence. At the end of the two-year window, Meredith will have the option to renegotiate the deal to run publishing, or Authentic Brands may take over completely.
Authentic Brands founder and CEO Jamie Salter wrote in a statement: “Sports Illustrated will continue to be a resource for its readers, providing up-to-the-minute sports news and coverage, thoughtful analysis, and entertaining stories. Our partnership with Meredith is key in continuing to re-build Sports Illustrated into a global platform while disseminating information with integrity and respect.”
This is the second time Sports Illustrated has been sold in less than two years. Meredith acquired Sports Illustrated as part of its purchase of Time Inc. for $1.85 billion in January 2018. Meredith also operates women’s lifestyle publications like Better Homes & Gardens and Allrecipes. Authentic Brands controls the rights to a wide array of brands, fashion lines, pop cultural figures, and sports figures.