The New York Times finally gets The Athletic

After nearly a year of discussions including a stalled agreement in the summer, The New York Times has purchased the subscription-based sports site The Athletic for $550m (£400m).

The sports site will operate as a separate unit of the company and its founders, Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann, will continue to work on The Athletic after the acquisition.

A deal was allegedly on the cards in the summer but was scuppered by the founders of the sports site’s concerns about the stock/cash split and how long the buyout would take to complete. 

The core attraction for The New York Times is that the Athletic has majored on a paid-for content strategy and can boast 1.2 million subscribers as of December. Although the site was originally US-focused the team has been building an international presence including launching a very high-profile UK division in 2019.

Like many large newspaper groups the NYT has been pushing towards a subscription model. It now has more than eight million paid subscriptions across digital and print products.

The Athletic, which recently celebrated its sixth anniversary, boasts around 1.2 million subscribers as of September, though it is yet to turn a profit.

“Acquiring the Athletic puts us in a position to be a global leader in sports journalism,” said NYT CEO Meredith Kopit Levien on Thursday.

“We are thrilled to announce that we have entered into an agreement to be acquired by The New York Times Company, a transaction that is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022,” The Athletic founders said in an email to subscribers

“The New York Times Company has set the standard for excellence in journalism, and as we look towards the future, their support will enable us to continue producing the best sports coverage on earth for an even wider audience.”

Topics

Your first step to joining FIPP's global community of media leaders

Sign up to FIPP World x