The New York Times Co. is buying sports news site The Athletic for $ 550 million, the latest move in its strategy to expand its paying subscriber audience as the print newspaper industry fades.
The Times, unlike many local media outlets, has thrived in recent years. It has gained millions of subscribers during the Trump presidency and the pandemic, keeping it on track to its previously stated goal of 10 million by 2025.
In the last quarter, the Times counted nearly 8.4 million. He has diversified his coverage with lifestyle tips, games and recipes, helping him to counter the decline of the 2020 politics-driven news traffic boom.
“We are now pursuing a target of well over 10 million subscriptions and believe that The Athletic will allow us to expand our addressable market of potential subscribers,” Meredith Kopit Levien, CEO of The New York Times Co., said in a statement. press Thursday.
It is one of the most significant acquisitions ever made by The Times. The company spent $ 1.1 billion on the Boston Globe in 1993 and $ 410 million on About.com in 2005, which it then sold for a lower price.
Digital media has recently consolidated to help it compete for online ad revenue with tech giants like Google and Facebook. German media conglomerate Axel Springer bought Politico; Vox Media Acquires Group Nine Media, Owner of Thrillist Site and Animals The Dodo; BuzzFeed bought the HuffPost.
The San Francisco-based Athletic covers national and local sports – more than 200 teams, according to the Times. It was founded in 2016 and has 1.2 million subscribers. Its website says it has more than 400 editorial staff, making it a major acquisition for The Times, which has more than 2,000 editorial staff.
It’s a little ironic that a fledgling sports media company is bought by one of the biggest traditional media companies in the world. Alex Mather, co-founder of The Athletic said in an interview with The Times in 2017: “We will wait all the local papers and let them bleed continuously until we are the last ones standing. We are going to empty them of their best talent at all times. We are going to make it extremely difficult for them.
The two sides had started discussing a deal last summer before the talks broke through. Athletic, had also been in talks with Axios last year.
After the sale closes, which is expected in the current quarter, The Athletic will be a subsidiary of Times Co. and will operate separately. Mather will remain as Managing Director and Co-Chairman and Co-Founder Adam Hansmann as COO and Co-Chairman.