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Sports Illustrated to live on, now with new publisher in tow

Sports Illustrated conducts mass layoffs
Sports Illustrated lays off most of its staff, union says 04:37

Sports Illustrated will remain in physical form after its parent company on Monday announced a new publisher for the famed sports magazine.

Authentic Brands Group (ABG) said that Israel's Minute Media had secured the publishing rights for Sports Illustrated. The magazine will stay under ABG's ownership, but Minute Media will take over responsibility for printing Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit and Sports Illustrated Kids. The deal is for 10 years with an option to extend for another 30 years, the New York Times reported

The companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal. 

Sports Illustrated was launched by Time Inc. owner and publisher Henry Luce in 1954. For decades, the weekly print publication was considered a benchmark for sports journalism, scooping up national magazine awards and influencing several generations of sportswriters.

Minute Media plans to build on Sports Illustrated's legacy by enhancing the publication's "visibility, commercial viability and sustainable impact, while ensuring that the SI team is inspired to flourish in this new era of media," founder and CEO Asaf Peled said in a statement. 

Minute Media launched in 2011 as a small digital publication focused on covering soccer. But the company has since expanded to more than 500 employers, established a presence in New York and London and acquired other sports news outlets. In 2019, Minute Media bought The Players' Tribune, a digital magazine launched by former baseball start Derek Jeter. Minute Media also owns The Big Lead and FanSided. 

"Minute Media has successfully proven that they are leading the way in a new era of sports storytelling, and we are excited and optimistic about this partnership and the future of Sports Illustrated as the preeminent lens into sport," ABG Executive Vice Chairman Daniel Dienst said in a statement. 

The Minute Media deal likely comes as a relief for the magazine's employees after the previous publisher, The Arena Group, laid off most of the staff in January. The magazine's unionized staff members said in a statement Monday that they welcome the change to Minute Media. 

"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," Emma Baccellieri, staff writer for the magazine and vice chair of its union, said in a statement. "We look forward to discussing a future with Minute Media that does that." 

Long a weekly magazine, Sports Illustrated shifted to a biweekly publishing schedule in 2018 and became a monthly in 2020. The publication was sold by Meredith Corp. to ABG in 2019 for $110 million. 

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