Sports Illustrated has found a new publisher, the company’s owner announced Monday, ending months of uncertainty over who would operate the storied sports publication. The new publisher is Minute Media, a London-based digital media company that publishes a number of websites, including the Players’ Tribune.

Minute Media takes over publishing Sports Illustrated from the Arena Group, which held those rights for five years and lurched from controversy to controversy, including undergoing several rounds of layoffs, publishing product reviews written by artificial intelligence and, earlier this year, laying off the entire unionized workforce of SI.

Minute Media is not acquiring SI but rather licensing the publishing rights from SI’s owner, Authentic Brands Group, a brand ownership firm that owns the intellectual property of celebrities such as Elvis Presley and Shaquille O’Neal. Minute Media will now decide the fates of around 80 staffers as it charts a path forward for SI. A spokesperson for Minute Media said the company would meet with SI leadership in the coming weeks to determine which staffers will be offered employment with Minute Media.

Dan Dienst, an executive vice chairman at Authentic, said in a statement: “In Minute Media we have found a partner that will honor SI’s lauded legacy and exceed fan expectations for the future. As Minute Media shepherds the SI brand across a rapidly evolving media landscape, our priority at Authentic is — and has always been — to protect its journalistic integrity and longevity.”

A new publisher could help stabilize SI after several tumultuous months, multiple staffers told The Washington Post. In January, the Arena Group missed a scheduled payment to Authentic, part of the licensing fee it paid to publish SI. Authentic responded by revoking the publishing license, and Arena issued layoff notices to all of the unionized staff. Their last days were scheduled to be at the end of April.

While staffers awaited their fates, Authentic spent the past several months negotiating a new publishing license. The company’s CEO, Jamie Salter, told The Post last month he was considering four proposals, including continuing its partnership with Arena. But that became increasingly untenable because of the deterioration of the relationship between Authentic and Arena’s largest shareholder, Manoj Bhargava, the founder of 5-Hour Energy.

“We have said from the start that our top priorities are to keep Sports Illustrated alive, uphold the legacy of the institution and protect our union jobs. We look forward to discussing a future with Minute Media that does that,” said Emma Baccellieri, a staff writer for SI and vice chair for the SI Union, in a statement released by the NewsGuild.

Sports Illustrated Editor-in-Chief Steve Cannella emailed staffers Monday morning. “I know we all have a lot of questions — I wish I had more to share with you right now,” he wrote, adding, “I’m sure we will get a chance to meet with the Minute Media team as soon as possible.”

The licensing deal is for 10 years, with an option for an additional 20. It includes the rights to publish Sports Illustrated in print and online as well as Sports Illustrated Swimsuit and Sports Illustrated Kids. As part of the deal, Authentic will acquire an equity stake in Minute Media.

The New York Times first reported the agreement.



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