Is The New York Times about to buy The Athletic?
Six months after talks between the two parties stalled The New York Times has apparently reemerged as a potential buyer of the sports website The Athletic.
At the time The Athletic was reported to be unhappy with the stock/cash split and how long the buyout would take to complete. It seems that both companies are looking again at how to work through those issues.
The Athletic recently celebrated its sixth anniversary. Over the years it has developed a global reach and in 2019 launched in the UK. The company is resolutely subscription based (around 1.2 million as of September), a trait it has in common with The New York Times which claims around 7.6 million paying customers for its digital subscriptions.
In spite of its strong subscriber base, the venture-backed The Athletic (it has raised $139.5 million over five rounds) is yet to turn a profit. Its valuation is thought to be between $500-800 million.
The New York Times isn’t the only potential buyer as the site has also been rumoured to have been in conversations with other digital publishers as well as gambling based corporations.
Discussing the potential deal Drew Sheinman, the former WME-IME executive turned founding partner of Brand Velocity Partners told the news site Front Office Sports, “it could make a lot of sense. Everybody’s trying to get to new forms of content and consumer engagement. The Athletic, in a very short time, has done a great job of establishing that.”
“So I get where it makes sense for the Times. But for The Athletic, there are other elements. Are they selling out? Are they still going to run it? There’s a lot of details in a transaction like that that will define whether it makes sense in the short term or long term.”
Neither party has commented on the rumours.