Sports Illustrated, long a crown jewel of the publishing world, was sold for $110 million to Authentic Brands, which looks to make money licensing out the iconic name.
Current owner Meredith Corp. is unloading the magazine as part of an effort to sell Time Inc. titles that don’t fit with its other publications. But Meredith will continue to publish the Sports Illustrated print magazine and manage its website for at least two years. It also will oversee advertising, video and social media for the brand.
Authentic Brands, meanwhile, will seek licensing deals that could slap the Sports Illustrated name on everything from consumer goods to sports-gambling services.
“SI’s trusted name and fiercely devoted following set the stage for the brand to become a leader in lifestyle and entertainment,” Authentic Brands Chief Executive Jamie Salter said in a statement.
Like other print publications, Sports Illustrated has lost luster in the age of online journalism. Sports magazines face competition from numerous digital upstarts, including Bleacher Report, SB Nation, the Athletic, Deadspin and the Ringer. Against that backdrop, ESPN the Magazine announced this year that it would no longer be publishing regular print issues.
Even so, Sports Illustrated still reaches 175 million U.S. consumers each month, according to Meredith. The company acquired the title in 2018 when it bought Time Inc. It then proceeded to put Time, Fortune and Sports Illustrated on the block.