Nieman Foundation at Harvard
Is the news industry ready for another pivot to video?
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Jan. 6, 2022, 12:11 p.m.

The New York Times is buying sports subscription site The Athletic for $550 million, The Information reported Thursday (Bloomberg has confirmed). As also previously reported by The Information, The Athletic had wanted more like $750 million. From that piece by Jessica Toonkel:

The Athletic has built an avid following of sports fans — the majority of whom pay $72 a year, to follow their favorite teams — and the company grew its business by paying competitive salaries to poach experienced local sports journalists from major newspapers around the country. The Athletic is now looking to grow advertising revenue and recently launched a free daily newsletter. The company told investors last year it expected ad sales to reach $31 million in 2023.

The Athletic brought in $47 million in revenue in 2020 while burning $41 million, as The Information first reported. The publication was forced to cut staff and pay during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic when most live sporting events were suspended, but it notched a major milestone when it hit 1 million subscribers in September 2020. As of last fall, the company projected 2021 revenue would jump to $77 million, and that cash burn would drop to $35 million.

“The talks WERE real wow,” my coworker Sarah Scire said in Slack today. “Still think this quote about local papers (by the athletic as quoted by nyt) was gross.”

It was! Looks like it worked out for them though.

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