New York Times to buy sports site The Athletic in $550 million deal

New York Times The Athletic
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The New York Times has agreed to buy the subscription-based sports site, The Athletic, in a deal valued at around $550 million, per reports on Thursday.

The Athletic brought in $47 million in revenue in 2020 but was forced to cut staff and pay during the early months of the pandemic when most live sporting events were suspended.

The company projected last fall 2021 revenue of $77 million, with cash burn at $35 million.

The New York Times and The Athletic did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

The deal will help expand the New York Times’ digital offerings as the 170-year-old paper zeroes in on its subscription-first business model that helped it weather steep declines in advertising and print readership.

The Athletic was founded six years ago by Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann, whose business model was predicated on poaching top reporters from newspapers around the country.

“We will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing,” Mather told the New York Times in a 2017 interview. “We will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment. We will make business extremely difficult for them.”

Now, The Athletic is joining the ranks of one of those newspapers it vowed to make life “extremely difficult” for.

This piece from Reuters includes additional reporting from Metro Philadelphia’s Joe Pantorno

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